Fast, furious, female: The first Arab woman to compete in Formula 4Health & Fitness
- 09 October 2017
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Amna Al Qubaisi is definitely not afraid to #drivelikeagirl. Shattering regional stereotypes, the Emirati race driver is making her mark in the record books by becoming the first Arab woman to compete in Formula 4 next season.
“I’ve raced against more than 30 male drivers from different countries, and I’ve won [against] them all fair and square,” the 17-year-old told My Salaam. “People who say that women are bad drivers are just stereotyping, and if anything, we should all #drivelikeagirl.”
GETTING THE SHOW ON THE ROAD
Amna is following in the footsteps of her father and all-time idol, Khaled Al Qubaisi, an award-winning endurance race car driver, founder of the Daman Speed Academy (DSA), and Managing Director of Abu Dhabi Racing. Her dream of motor racing started at the age of 9, when she rode her first toy quad around the desert. Watching and hearing her father talk passionately about racing and competing internationally convinced Amna to join the DSA, which aims to develop a generation of Emirati racers while producing world-standard Formula 1 drivers right out of the UAE.
“I was lucky to join the DSA. They motivated me a lot and picked up on my speed and capabilities, which they helped improve on a daily basis, and made racing a part of who I am” she said.
Amna was only 13 when she took to the tracks. She hit a course twice a week for 4–5 hours a day (which, according to her, is a lot more than the required training time) and went to the gym to work on her fitness too. She had to take her homework to the track but said that racing has never really affected her studies; her parents as well as the academy were strict about school. Joining Paris Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi this year will only mean more practice and more studying for Amna.
“Despite racing and studying [at the same time], I managed to beat far more experienced drivers who were competing against me and raced for much longer than I have,” she said. “I realised that I was the most inexperienced driver on track and yet managed to beat the best on grid; it was like a switch that just made me want to push harder and go beyond my limits. That’s when I realised I wanted to pursue this more professionally.”
Sponsorships from big names like Daman, Abu Dhabi Racing, Sanad, Injazat, Omeir Travel Agency, Finance House, Honor, and most importantly, Kaspersky Labs (the global cybersecurity company that has been sponsoring the Scuderia Ferrari F1 team since 2011) helped Amna achieve her dream of training to become an award-winning racer like her father.
“I’ve won the 2016–2017 UAE Rotax Max Challenge Max Championship; that was my first-ever win, and I was the first Emirati woman to win the Senior Class Challenge.” It took Amna four years to grab that title, but she has also come in third in the UAE IAME X30 championship and won the GCC Young Drivers Academy Award and the UAE Teen Fitness Award.
And what is she focusing on now? “Getting ready to represent my beloved country in two huge world finals: the X30 World Finals in Le Mas, France, and Rotax Max Grand Finals in Portimao–Portugal.”
Amna’s hopes to excel at Formula 4 and eventually be a Formula 1 racer are fuelled by belief in herself. As she puts it, “Once you believe in yourself, the rest is history.” Of her move to Formula 4, she remarked, “My dream is to be amongst the top in a very challenging and tough championship in Formula 4, and my future plans will come after every work and effort I put in my races.”