The international motorsports community is gearing up for the Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix this weekend. As if that’s not exciting enough, Amna and Hamda Al Qubaisi, the UAE’s first top female race drivers, are preparing to make their debut in the F4UAE series that takes place on the sidelines. The sisters, who are the daughters of the nation’s first international motorsports star Khaled Al Qubaisi, are making history by being a part of the races.
Amna and Hamda, who made two appearances together in Italy this year, are competing in a special Formula 4 race, a one-off trophy round at the main Yas Marina Circuit. While the qualifier is this Friday, Race 1 and Race 2 will take place on Saturday and Sunday respectively. Both drivers are naturally thrilled to be part of the challenge, especially as it is the first time they get to compete as teammates for the Abu Dhabi racing team on home turf. Plus, of course, there’s the fact they’ll be competing on the same track as racing greats like Lewis Hamilton, Sebastien Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo.
“I have done the F4 a few times abroad, but this is the first time at the Yas Circuit, and for us, the most important race so far,” Amna, 19, told The National. “There is pressure, like in every other sport, especially when you compete at this level. The pressure is even more when the spotlight falls on you, being a local driver in front of local fans. But then you must able to deal with such matters if you want to race at this level and achieve your objectives."
The younger Hamda also shared her excitement about racing in Abu Dhabi. “I really do look forward to this race because it’s going to be my first time racing on my home track,” she told The National. “It’s going to be a huge deal for me. It’s a huge honour to represent my country. It will be a big deal for me for next season.”
Passionate about driving like their father, who claimed a podium finish in the GTE-Am class at the 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans, both girls began their racing careers with karting. Amna began when she was 14 and became the first Arab woman on the karting circuit to participate at the Rotax Max Challenge World Finals. After advancing to more serious racing, she broke out into single-seaters in 2018, becoming the first Emirati female racing driver to do that.
The Physics student at Abu Dhabi’s Sorbonne University also raced in the Italian F4 championship. Additionally, she was one of nine females to test a Formula E car for Envision Virgin Racing just afterSaudi Arabia’s inaugural Ad Diriyah ePrix last year. This year, Amna attempted to join the newly created W-Series, an all-female championship intended to increase participation in motorsport and had another season in Italian F4, with Prema. Meanwhile, 17-year-old Hamda, who is enrolled at New York University Abu Dhabi, is still in the early stages of a budding career. As well as racing with her sister twice in Italy this year, she made an appearance on the Red Bull Ring in Austria.