Saudi Arabia’s Aseel al-Hamad Drives F1 Car ahead of French Grand Prix

Monday, 25 June, 2018 - 10:00
Jeddah - Asharq Al-Awsat

Aseel al-Hamad became on Sunday the first Saudi woman to drive a Formula One car after she got behind the wheel of a 2012 Renault for a lap ahead of the French Grand Prix.

She drove the car around the Le Castellet circuit the day that a ban on women driving in the Kingdom ended.

"I believe today is not just celebrating the new era of women starting to drive, it's also the birth of women in motor sport in Saudi Arabia," al-Hamad said via Reuters.

"The most important thing I am looking forward to is to start seeing the next generation, young girls, trying (motor sports careers). I want to watch them training and taking the sport very seriously as a career. This is going to be really my biggest achievement."

A Saudi interior designer and business executive, al-Hamad had driven the car, which Kimi Raikkonen drove to a victory in Abu Dhabi in 2012, earlier this month and her lap went smoothly Sunday.

"It was perfect. Everything was smooth, I felt I belong in the seat," she said afterward. "I loved the fact that there was an audience around ... today is magical."

Al-Hamad is the first female member of the Saudi Arabian Motorsport Federation and serves on the Women in Motorsport Commission set up by Formula One's governing body.

She also was the first woman to import a Ferrari into Saudi Arabia and has taken her 458 Spider to tracks around the country for workshops and track days.

She hopes that there will soon be female racecar drivers in her country.

"For sure, definitely. And this is going to be my mission in Saudi."

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