What Amna Al-Qubaisi lacks in physicality, she more than make up for in bravery and fortitude.
The 21-year-old Emirati driver, who races for Abu Dhabi Racing, suffered a heavy crash earlier this year that left her F3 car badly damaged.
A week later, she was back behind the wheel.
It has been an eventful start to her participation in the Formula Regional Asian Championship.
“I had been off of racing for a year and coming back into it, getting back into the rhythm took me a while,” Al-Qubaisi told Arab News at the sideline of the #WhatSheSaid talk, a panel of inspirational female athletes from the region.
“In my first race weekend, I claimed my first points, so it started off really well. And then I had that big crash, and I had to start gaining that confidence to get back into the rhythm.
“But overall, it was a really good race weekend, and I managed to close the gap for my teammates.”
Those teammates happen to be her father, UAE racing legend Khaled, and her 19-year-old sister Hamda. Amna has enjoyed building up the sporting rapport with her family.
“It was actually really nice. I expected a lot of arguments and fighting,” she said. “But all in all, it was like a bonding moment. We gave each other advice, we helped each other on track, with slipstream and everything. So it was really nice.”
The enjoyment does not mean there have been no challenges, but the sibling rivalry has worked to the benefit of the team.
“There’s a lot of pushing (each other) with my sister as well, because she’s been competing in F4, and then coming into F3,” said Al-Qubaisi.
“We’ve seen a lot on social media people comparing us, in terms of our experience, and we try to shut that out and not let it affect our relationship. So we take it as how it is, we help each other and we both are good in our own different ways.”
Abu Dhabi Racing claimed a impressive fourth-place finish in the Formula Regional Asian Championship. Above all, Al-Qubaisi was racing at the highest level of her career so far.
“It was very challenging, especially the handling of the car; it was very physical,” she said.
“The formula regional car is a really heavy car, much heavier than the FIA F3, so physically, it was really difficult to overcome. But pace-wise I was there. It’s just a matter of consistency, trying to be more focused and putting things together.
“It took me a while to adapt to it when I was off for a year. So I was training in the gym just didn’t have that same feeling of being in the car.”
The from the early days of karting at Yas Marina and Al-Ain raceway as nine-year-old, Al-Qubaisi has set an example for other aspiring female drivers in the UAE and the region. Slowly, other are starting to rise through the ranks as well.
“I’ve heard in our team, that there are two girls competing in karting, and they’re doing pretty well,” she said. “I’ve heard also a younger female Emirati is competing in Europe. So we are seeing a couple of girls getting into the sport and raising more awareness of the sport. So, hopefully, we can see them also in single seaters, or maybe even in GT cars.”
With government backing in terms of funding, programs and facilities, there has never been a better time for young drivers to get into racing
“I think people should be taking a lot of advantage of (what’s on offer) ,” she said.
“We have really good tracks. We have an F1 track, Yas Marina has a school where they provide opportunities for people who would like to take racing as a career, as a sport. They host a lot of races at Yas Marina, and at Dubai Autodrome as well. I think we should really take advantage because it’s also at low cost. It’s much cheaper than what Europe charges. So they are helping the racing community.”
For now, the Al-Qubaisi family remains firmly in the driving seat, in every sense, and Amna has high hopes for the future.
“Next season, we’re thinking to do a few rounds in Europe,” she said. “And hopefully F3 Asia again.”