It was a weekend to remember for Hamda Al Qubaisi in Barcelona. After a tricky two opening rounds, the Red Bull Racing driver fought hard and kept her tyres in check to earn MP Motorsport’s first podium finish of the 2024 F1 ACADEMY season.

We followed the Emirati racer throughout Round 3, as she talked us through the initial challenges of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Free Practice to the joy of securing the first silverware of her sophomore campaign.


“I’m feeling quite good, especially coming from Miami. We had a good improvement there compared to Jeddah. I think as a team, we found a good setup and pace-wise we were up there. Coming into this weekend, I had a bit more expectation because I know the track and I raced here last year and it went really well.

“When I went out, I just had two laps and then after that, I couldn’t do the same lap time again. The tyre deg is really big here and it was really hot. In terms of the track, it was a bit different compared to Qualifying. We were the first on track in Free Practice, so it was very dusty. The track gripped up quite a lot, so doing that transition is I think what I missed a bit, especially with the grip on track. I should have pushed in a few corners a bit more and that's the time I lost a bit.”


“The first set of tyres in Quali was really good, but on the second set, I missed a bit which put us down in P7. I think it's still good results and it's only up from here.

The Red Bull Racing driver said she had set her sights on a stronger run of results in Barcelona
The Red Bull Racing driver said she had set her sights on a stronger run of results in Barcelona

“I feel like on the first set it was quite good. I got the lap in straight away, but then on the second one, I really struggled to do that in the first push. I think I was overdriving a bit into the corners. The other drivers had such a big difference from the first set to the second — up to seven tenths, maybe eight — and I only improved by two tenths. That shows that there was quite a lot in the grip that I could have used on track.

“Last year, it was quite difficult to overtake, but there are quite a few opportunities like Turn 1 and Turn 10 after the long straight. I'm sure these opportunities will be good for me especially. Then also, having a good start compared to the others would be good to make up positions there.

“Hopefully with the race pace, we're quite confident, so I hope we're able to save our tyres until the end of the race and make up a few positions. For sure, the top five is my main goal, but also a podium would be really nice.”

RACE 1: P5

“Started P7 and finished P5, I think it was quite good. We gained some positions and we had a really good start, so I’m happy about it. In terms of race pace, I think we could’ve been a bit stronger, so we will focus on that for tomorrow for Race 2.

Hamda Al Qubaisi said she struggled to make the jump in pace between her first and second sets in Qualifying
Hamda Al Qubaisi said she struggled to make the jump in pace between her first and second sets in Qualifying

“The weather forecast is looking more on the wet side for tomorrow’s race, but nevertheless, I think it’s just about enjoying it and trying to make the most out of the experience. I’m not so experienced in wet conditions, but for sure, it will be a challenge and I’m excited to take that.

"In Zandvoort testing, it was wet on the two test days, so it was good training for me to get used to the wet conditions. I think we did quite well there considering I don’t have much experience in the wet conditions. It was positive, so I’m happy to take those learnings and use it here in Barcelona.

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“With the weather conditions, it’s going to be the same for everyone, but starting from P5, I’m hoping to get a good start. Focus on driving in these conditions and try to make up as many positions as possible. I think a podium is up for grabs, so we’ll just keep it focused, clean and try to end the race with a good result.”

RACE 2: P3

“I’m really happy! The team worked really hard to get us to this point, so I'm happy we were able to get that P3. I was also challenging for P2, so the pace was really there this time. I feel like we're going in the right direction now, especially going into Zandvoort. I have a really big confidence boost now and I feel more motivated.

“It's just been going well. We've been progressing since Jeddah where we had a P9 and P5, in Miami a P6 and P5 and then a P5 and P3. The progress is happening and maybe we get a win next time! I just feel like we've been progressing a lot and this is the way we should be doing it, so I'm happy about it.

A solid getaway enabled the Emirati racer to get past Tina Hausmann off the line in Race 1
A solid getaway enabled the Emirati racer to get past Tina Hausmann off the line in Race 1

“I remember in Race 1, Doriane (Pin) actually stalled and Bianca (Bustamante) didn’t have the greatest start, so I had to get past Bianca. Then, I saw Doriane stopped and was stationary, so it was really difficult to find a way through. Today was the same, Doriane didn’t have the best start and Nerea (Martí) had an okay start, but I felt like if I went around her outside, it wouldn’t have been good. So, I tried to stay stuck in.

“I think my starts were my strongest point and I proved that yesterday and today. So, I think that's where I had the chance to get them. Then in the race, it was really difficult to overtake because of the tyre deg, but Nerea made a mistake in front of me and I was able to get past her. So, I feel like everything was planned really well and it was a calm but good race.

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“I was more observing, trying to see what would happen. I saw Doriane catching me, so I was like, okay I think this is the time I should try to find a way past. I didn't want to risk anything or do anything stupid. I tried to play the smart game and I noticed that she was really close to Abbi (Pulling) going into the last corner.

“I took a bit of a gap and she had a lot of understeer out to the corner, so she wasn't able to go on power early. I slowed down a bit on entry, and I was able to get the run down on her in the straight. I played the smart game and it worked. She started defending, I stayed out and took Abbi’s slipstream and it worked really well. In terms of racecraft, I really struggled with it last year and this year, I'm able to improve that. Overall, I feel it was good to start mid-pack. It's good to get that experience fighting with the others and getting into a battle spirit.

Hamda Al Qubaisi now sits sixth in the Drivers Standings on 55 points
Hamda Al Qubaisi now sits sixth in the Drivers' Standings on 55 points

“(Pulling) was struggling a lot with the tyres. She was really sliding everywhere, so I was going to try to send it a bit in Turn 5. I was going to do it there, but I didn’t want to risk anything. P3 is a good position, I didn’t want to end up in a bad situation and I knew there was only one lap left. Maybe, I could have gone for a dive, but I’ll get her next time, that’s okay.”


“I feel it's good to get into the summer break with this P3. It gave me such a big confidence boost, especially going into Zandvoort where I had really good memories last year. This is making me feel like I could replicate it again because coming from Miami and Jeddah, I wasn’t so sure if I was able to do it. Going into Barcelona, I just said ‘okay, no expectations, just drive’ and it all played well.

“I'm feeling really excited. Zandvoort is such a special track. It's a really technical and physical track, so we're going to work a lot on prep — a lot of physical training as well as the sim. I’m looking forward to the prep and looking forward to the race weekend in general.”