Commemorating Saudi Arabia’s lifting of its decades-long ban on women drivers, French automobile manufacturer Renault invited a Saudi woman behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car for a joyride ahead of the French Grand Prix on Sunday (Jun 24).
Aseel Al-Hamad, the first female member of the Saudi Arabian Motorsport Federation, took a 2012 Renault Sport Formula One Team E20 car for a spin on France’s Le Castellet circuit which on the same day hosted the first French Grand Prix in 10 years.
Her celebratory drive was part of the Renault “Passion Parade” – a cavalcade featuring the company’s historic and iconic cars – that took place just hours before the racing event, according to a Renault statement.
The Formula 1 car she used was also the very same vehicle Finnish Formula 1 racer Kimi Raikkonen claimed victory with at the 2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Aseel had cultivated a years-long passion for motorsport and finally got her maiden experience with a Formula 1 car at a Renault training day on Jun 5 at Le Castellet.
After receiving training from Renault Sport Formula One Team engineers and technicians, Aseel was able to get accustomed to the demanding circuit in a Renault road car before upgrading to a Formula Renault car and subsequently an E20 Formula 1 car later in the day.
“I have loved racing and motorsport from a very young age and to drive a Formula 1 car goes even beyond my dreams and what I though possible. It is a genuine honour to drive the Renault Sport Formula One Team E20 car in front of the crowds at its home Grand Prix in France,” she said.
“I hope doing so on the day when women can drive on the roads in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia shows what you can do if you have the passion and spirit to dream.”
Aseel is also a representative of her country on the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) Women in Motorsport Commission. Some of her responsibilities include implementing strategies and policies to promote the education and training of women in motorsport in Saudi Arabia.
Michèle Mouton, the Commission’s president, said: “In the time Aseel has been a member of the Commission, Saudi Arabia’s vision has been very clear and things have developed at a rapid rate.”
“Now, as one of the driving forces behind the Saudi Arabian Motorsport Federation, Aseel will pave the way for women to embrace sports and careers in motorsport,” she added.
Saudi Arabian Aseel Al-Hamad, the first female member of the Saudi Arabian Motorsport Federation, to drive the @PaulRicardTrack, in the 2012 @RenaultSportF1 car today ahead of the #FrenchGP. 👉 https://t.co/tzyEzSfs7I#RSspirit #RACEday #SheDrives pic.twitter.com/N6WhhUpAWs
— Renault Sport F1 (@RenaultSportF1) June 24, 2018