After a disappointing Qualifying, Hamda Al Qubaisi was leaving nothing on the table to salvage points from the first race of the weekend.

The Red Bull Racing driver knew that would be the task ahead of her following a P13-worthy performance on Thursday, after only choosing to run one set of the medium tyres during the session.

Al Qubaisi didn’t shy away from making her presence known. Battling her way past those ahead and staying clear of contact, the Emirati racer secured the two points on offer for ninth. Reflecting on how the race unfolded, she was determined to take the positives out of the day as her no holds barred approach paid off.

“I’m feeling really well because unfortunately, Quali didn’t go as planned,” said Al Qubaisi. “With the team in general, we picked the wrong strategy I would say, and we could have made it in the top five. But without using the second set, it was really difficult, so we started at the back.

“From here, I had nothing to lose, so I had a clear mind. It was more just about trying to make positions and try to make a clean race. I think that’s what we aimed for and that’s what happened. We were able to finish the race most importantly, but in a clean way. I tried my best to make moves. It’s really difficult at this track. It’s a hard place to overtake, but we managed to make it work and make up a few positions. A decent result, I’m happy with it and hopefully we can top that tomorrow in Race 2.”

Her quest for points was far from straightforward. Attempting to find her way past Aurelia Nobels, Al Qubaisi was relentless in attacking the PUMA driver, but couldn’t make any of her moves stick.

default image

With that in mind, she believes that nailing her getaway at lights out will be critical in setting the tone for Race 2, as well as remaining a constant thorn in the side of those ahead to take advantage of any mistakes.

“I noticed that a lot of them got pressured into many errors and that’s how I was able to make positions,” she explained. “But at the same time, I think getting off the line well is important and the start will be very crucial for me.

READ MORE: RACE 1: Pin sails to lights-to-flag victory in Jeddah domination

“I lacked it a little bit. I lost a position at the start and that put me a bit on the back foot, but I was able to forget it and try to push even more, and it worked. I think it’s crucial tomorrow to make as few mistakes as possible and try to pressure them into making mistakes. I think we’ll be able to make it higher.”

The potential for another heroic fightback could be on the cards for Al Qubaisi, although she believes her dream of a top-five finish is an outside chance. Yet the form she showed on her way to third in the Drivers’ Standings last season proved that her rivals would be remiss in counting her out.

“I know you might say it’s a long shot, but the top five maybe,” Al Qubaisi admitted. “I think anything can happen. It’s possible, I have the pace for it. I’ve showed it in the past, so it’s just an unlucky weekend for us. I’m sure we have the pace still and we can make it work.”