F4UAE: History made as four women set to contest the Abu Dhabi support round
The F4UAE Championship powered by Abarth, based in the United Arab Emirates, will make motorsport history this week as four women prepare to compete at the season-opening Trophy Round at Yas Marina Circuit (November 28-December 1).
Not only a first for circuit racing in the region, but three of the four women are GCC nationals from both the UAE and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; another first for motorsport in the Middle East and one that is understood to not have been replicated before in open-wheeler circuit racing.
The young women include open-wheeler racers Amna and Hamda Al Qubaisi from the UAE – the daughters of Khaled Al Qubaisi, a multiple winner of the Dubai 24 Hours – former British F4 racer and TRD 86 Cup UAE winner Reema Juffali from KSA, and former F4UAE racer Logan Hannah from Scotland.
Considered one of the most important additions to the UAE’s local motorsport calendar back in 2016, F4UAE has been instrumental in developing young driver talent over the last three seasons, with 46 different drivers from 32 countries competing since inception. However, only one has been a woman to date, 18-year-old Hannah who returns for a one-off entry this season.
All four will grid up for the category’s first appearance as a support event to the Formula 1® Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix this week at Yas Marina Circuit, marking a step forward for motorsport in the region that is welcomed by all members of the sporting community.
“The F4UAE Championship has grown to be one of the best platforms for new talented drivers to expand their careers, and we are very proud that it now has four women willing to be a part of this historical event supporting the Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Formula 1 Grand Prix,” said Mohammed Ben Sulayem, President of the Emirates Motorsports Organization (EMSO), and FIA Vice President for Sport.
“The UAE has a long history of motorsport success that is recognised around the world, and we are proud to lead the way in giving every driver the opportunity to be a successful racing driver no matter if they are male or female. It’s very exciting to have the women part of the championship and we wish them a lot of success.”
Category technical director, Craig Thompson, says the women should be given credit for earning their place on the grid: “Formula 4 racing is an entry level category and there can be a misconception that they are easy to race without needing any experience, but you do need racing miles under your belt to have any chance of keeping up with the field. F4 sets the benchmark for developing young drivers into future Formula 1 stars.
“Drivers that come to F4UAE are usually karting champions with international experience, and these young women have done a great job in earning credibility through karting and open-wheelers in Europe, the UK and the UAE to be prepared for racing in front of a huge F1 crowd. We really do wish them every success,” Thompson concluded.
Category communications manager Filippa Guarna – a 20-year motorsport media veteran and a longtime champion for the increased participation of women in the sport – says the four women racing in F4UAE send a positive message to other women and young girls who want to be part of such an exciting industry.
“The UAE has such a strong karting community and you’d be surprised how many are girls and young women, so it’s great that the industry here is embracing these efforts and encouraging them to keep pushing their skills to move up through the competition ranks,” said Guarna. “Amna, Hamda, Reema and Logan have a solid mix of experience already, and even though racing in front of the most prestigious championship in the world – Formula 1 – will be daunting, we know they’ll be completely focused on the job. To have them make history at F4UAE’s Trophy Round is truly something we’re all proud to be a part of and here to support them next weekend.”
AMNA AL QUBAISI (UAE): A former karting champion, Amna Al Qubaisi this year competed in her second season of the Italian F4 Championship, where she claimed 10 top-20 finishes and a best result of 12th at Adria in 2018, and seven top-20 finishes and a best result of 13th at Mugello this year. Her long list of accolades includes becoming the first female to win both the UAE RMC Champion karting title in 2016 and the GCC Drivers Academy Competition in 2017. She was also the first Middle Eastern woman to take part in a motorsport test program for Formula E after the 2018 Ad Diriyah ePrix event in Saudi Arabia.
HAMDA AL QUBAISI (UAE): Hamda Al Qubaisi started karting in 2015 and was the first Emirati to be invited to the FIA-sponsored CIK-FIA Karting Academy Trophy in 2016. She’s finished 3rd place in the IAME X30 championship and most recently made her F4 debut in Austria at the Red Bull Ring this past July as part of the Italian F4 Championship (she contested two rounds this season).
REEMA JUFFALI (KSA): Reema Juffali began her first season of racing only in October 2018 in the TRD 86 Cup UAE with Dragon Racing – the same team which won the 2017/2018 F4UAE Drivers and Teams Champions titles. The talented Saudi racer scored seven class wins, four overall podium finishes and won the 45-minute feature race supporting the 2018 Gulf 12 Hours AT Yas Marina Circuit. In 2019, she took a leap of faith overseas and embarked on the British F4 Championship for Double-R Racing, where she finished 13th outright with 10 top-10 finishes. Reema will contest the 2019 F4UAE Trophy Round with Dragon Racing.
LOGAN HANNAH (SCT): Having started competing in karting aged 11, Logan is the only female to start a race in F4UAE to date, having debuted in the 2017/2018 F4UAE season where she raced Round 1 at Yas Marina Circuit. A member of the Arden-linked Young Racing Drivers Academy for the past six years, she has extensive karting experience in the UAE and overseas, as well as in Ginetta Juniors. In 2019, she raced in the Scottish FF1600 championship, scoring three podiums and a 4th place in the drivers’ championship. Most recently she raced in the Formula Ford Festival, plus the Walter Hayes Trophy (at Silverstone) making it to the final and placing 21st out of 107 drivers on her first full season. Logan has also been named the Scottish Motor Racing Club’s female racer of the year for 2019.
The F4UAE Trophy Round will be run as a support to the Formula 1® Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Yas Marina Circuit, UAE, from November 28 to December 1, 2019.