MACAU: Fifteen-year-old Emirati driver Rashid Al-Dhaheri overcame a challenging weekend to finish third in the 2023 Macau Formula 4 race at the Guia Circuit.
The 70th Macau Grand Prix was weather-affected and turned the F4 race — on a track that is tricky even in dry conditions — into one of high attrition.
Driving for the Prema race team with backing from Yas Heat, Al-Dhaheri was the sole representative of the Middle East and Africa in a mixed grid of 23 drivers coming from Formula Regional, F1 Academy, F4 Italia, as well as F4 SEA.
His podium finish vindicated the challenging but rewarding path the young UAE driver has taken to train at the highest level in F4 Italia with Prema, enabling him to develop key skills and shine in high-profile races such as the Macau Grand Prix.
Coached by Prema Racing at the track he has never driven on, Al-Dhaheri ticked all the boxes according to his team.
A report on the team website said: “The 15-year-old Emirati mastered the tough weather conditions of the qualifying race on Sunday morning, and improved to P3 for the final race, even contending for second place on the high-speed Macanese street circuit.
“Despite the proximity of walls and barriers, the high speeds, the narrow roads of Macau, and the fierce competition, Al-Dhaheri maximized the performance without making a single mistake.”
On the teenager’s rookie season in F4, the Prema report added: “He completed an outstanding rookie season in perfect fashion, delivering his best result of the year by improving steadily and becoming a top-level contender for the coveted event.”
The annual trip to Macau for the famed Formula 3 race, is a well-trodden path with great racing names including Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher making appearances at the non-championship event over the years.
On his best F4 weekend to date, Al-Dhaheri said: “Macau is an amazing track and one of the most special ones where you can race, due to its configuration and the close walls making it even more challenging. We had variable conditions this week, dry, then damp, and fully wet, so there was a lot to manage.
“As the track is so different compared to others, there was a lot to adapt to. In the final race, we were able to gain one position and take a podium finish, which is great. The weekend was a constant improvement, learning to get closer and closer to the walls to be faster.
“Overall, we did quite a good job and we could have even got P2. Anyway, we learned a lot and we hope to come back soon,” he added.
Later this month Al-Dhaheri will be involved in his first home race weekend in support of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit.