Eighteen-year-old Emirati racing driver Amna Al Qubaisi became the first Arab woman to take part in a Formula E test this past weekend and hopes her participation will increase interest in the sport from the Middle East.
The teenager, who is the first-ever female Emirati racing driver, joined a who’s who of female racing talent on the street circuit of Ad Diriyah this weekend in the fully electric motor cars.
With most of the drivers hoping to get a seat in next year’s W Series, the Formula E rookie test in Saudi Arabia was a thrilling preview to what might be in 2019. It was one of the most exciting and competitive line-ups of female drivers ever seen in motorsport.
The event was even more poignant by the fact that legislation allowing women to drive in the country was only announced this year.
Amna Al Qubaisi took her place in the Kaspersky Lab sponsored Envision Virgin Racing Team Formula E car in the morning session but hit a barrier with the rear wheel of the car, sidelining her afternoon testing efforts.
Al Qubaisi was joined on the streets of Ad Diriyah by Tatiana Calderon, Carmen Jorda, Beitske Visser, Katherine Legge and Simona de Silvestro – who set the fastest time of all female drivers.
The daughter of Le Mans racing driver Khaled Al Qubaisi said that the test organised by Kaspersky Lab and Envision Virgin Racing “was a dream come true”.
Amna Al Qubaisi said: “This was a dream come true. I'm very proud to be representing women in general and especially Arabian women. This year, thanks to Kaspersky Lab, I became the first Arab female driver in Formula 4 and now, I am the first in Formula E. I hope that my experience will serve as an inspiration to other young Arab women wanting to drive.
“It was a momentous occasion that I am ever grateful to Kaspersky Lab for. The company’s continued support allows me to chase my goal of racing professionally.”
The UAE-born driver and daughter of Le Mans racing driver Khaled Al Qubaisi started karting aged 13, quickly winning the UAE Rotax Max Challenge Championship. Global cybersecurity company Kaspersky Lab spotted Amna’s raw talent and sponsored her immediately. The partnership has since seen Al Qubaisi compete in Formula 4 with Prema Theodore Racing.
Aldo Fucelli Pessot del Bo, Head of Global Partnerships and Sponsorships at Kaspersky Lab, added: “This could be a seminal moment for female motorsport. For too long, in order to be a successful racing driver, you have had to be skilled, determined, competitive, brave and physically fit, but more importantly, you have had to be a man. Gender does not determine speed and Kaspersky Lab firmly believes that female and male racing drivers should compete against one another on equal terms and be given the same opportunities.
"We are proud to sponsor Amna Al Qubaisi, who at 18 is showing all the hallmarks of becoming a racing great and was the youngest female racer on the track in Saudi Arabia. We have to thank Sylvain Filippi and the whole Envision Virgin Racing team who did not hesitate to give her this opportunity.”
The Formula E rookie test took place on Sunday 16 December, the day after the ABB FIA Formula E Ad Diriyah E-Prix.