For the first time in the history of a Formula 1 support race during the Grand Prix, a woman and an Arab won first place in the single-seater category. The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit saw history being made when an Arab woman won a Formula 4 race.
Amna Al Qubaisi, a 19-year-old Emirati young woman, smoked the rest of her fellow racers on Saturday at the non-championship race after securing pole position, proceeding to lead from start to finish. Al Qubaisi won the 25-minute race over the Xcel Motorsport duo Nicola Marinangeli and Alex Connor.
Amna's younger sister, Hamda, was also competing and came in fifth place.
The sisters were two of the four girls highlighted in the F4 UAE Championship, with Amna fully conquering the track and taking hold of the spotlight. As a sign of pride, the UAE anthem was played in the background as she stood on the podium to receive her trophy.
"I am very proud to be the first Emirati and Arab driver on podium of Formula 4. I thank my family and all the supporters. I dedicate this win to my country and the leadership," she told reporters.
The 17-year-old Al Qubaisi sister, on the other hand, did not have much luck. Hamda attempted to fight for the third spot but was cut off by Alex Connor and Tijmen van der Helm. After losing focus for a mere few seconds, Jordanian Manan Hajjawi overtook her, pushing Hamda into fifth place.
Amna's excitement and pure joy were palpable. Barely waiting to pull to a stop in the pits, she jumped out of her car and ran to hug her parents from across the safety barriers.
"It was amazing, a new experience for me. I cried the first time I crossed the checkered flag. [...] all the hard work and the experience finally paid off," Al Qubaisi said in an interview with CNN.
Her passion for racing and winning is an inspiration to women and girls in the region and beyond. According to Hamda, her sister is the reason behind her love for the sport. With their parents' support, it can be expected that great success will come from both girls.
During Sunday's race, however, Amna was unable to carry on with her reign after a collision with Marinangeli during the first lap which left her unable to continue the race due to the damage her vehicle endured. She finished in 12th place.
Saturday's win was not Amna's first in the world of racing. She launched her career at the age of 14 as the first Arab female kart racer to compete in the Rotax Max Challenge (RMC) World Finals.
At 16, she was the first girl to win an RMC series after topping the Senior Max category by a whopping 173 points. Following the aforementioned victory, she became the first woman to be selected for the GCC Young Drivers Academy Program, winning that as well.
She now hopes her current and upcoming triumphs will eventually lead her to the most esteemed races of all, Formula One.
"Definitely the next step is Formula 3, that's the main goal. So hopefully next year we'll get into that," Amna told CNN.
Al Qubaisi's talent did not come out of thin air. It seems this passion of hers was passed on by her father, Khaled Al Qubaisi, who raced the "24 Hours of Le Mans" along with multiple podium finishes. He is "extremely, extremely proud" of his daughters, not only as their father but as an Emirati himself.