August 26, 2018: To celebrate the lifting of Saudi Arabia’s ban on women driving, Aseel Al-Hamad, the first female board member of the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation, drove Renault Sport’s 2012 Formula One car around the 2018 French Grand Prix track and became the first Saudi woman to drive a Formula One car.
On this month’s episode of The Circuit, host Amanda Davies meets Al-Hamad to learn more about her hopes for a future full of possibilities for female drivers.
Aseel Al-Hamad on her unique opportunity to inspire women in Saudi Arabia:
“I have a mission to carry the voice of the women and make sure that I can develop the foundation for women’s motorsport in Saudi Arabia. It’s to develop the next generation in motorsport. This is the main thing because their achievements are going to be my achievement.”
On the positive impact the lifted ban will have on Formula One:
“It’s like a ladder. You start from step one, then you develop the skills. The Saudi Arabia Federation is not only focused on motorsport, it’s about anything related to [the] motor industry, like car touring. So when you promote car touring and [similar] activities, the women will arouse the feeling or the love of cars and speed and then, little by little, they can develop it [and become] professional. We believe that women are capable [of competing] equally with men.”
On what it was like to drive a Formula One car:
“It felt amazing that I’m representing my country and women of my country by celebrating the first activation driving with this beautiful car. I wanted to say to the world that nothing is impossible and Saudi women are capable [of doing] everything.”
On becoming a motorsport fan from a young age:
“I used to prefer to play with car toys and Legos and being involved in sport activities more than doing the normal games that used to be shown to me. And I started watching cars, car models, and then I realised [there was] something called mechanical engineering – and the effect on the car and speed.”
On being headhunted by the Saudi Motor Federation:
“Because of my past experience and activities, they noticed me, and they noticed my passion and how I’m serious about it. So, they approached my asking me to have a seat and become a member with them at the Saudi Arabia Motor Federation. My role is exactly like the other board of directors.”