By Jasmine Adjallah
The world of motorsport is a constantly evolving place. New talents emerge from their humble beginnings in karting on a yearly basis. A notable trend that has begun to emerge is that exceptional female talent is on a promising feverish spike. The likes of Jamie Chadwick, a popular female figure in modern motorsport, has proven significantly helpful in improving the profile of female motorsport athletes and possibly inspiring others to follow in her footsteps or beyond - all alongside her spectacularly soaring career.
These four young female drivers have shown extremely promising performances in their junior career that indicates they only have more to come, asserting the point that motorsport will most definitely have women as constant, dominant and competitive participants in its near future.
Amna Al Qubaisi
Qubaisi has been breaking records since the very start of her career. She’s both the first Emirati female racing driver and, as of 16th December 2018, the first Middle Eastern woman to take part in a motorsport test programme for Formula E in the Ad Diriyah ePrix in Saudi Arabia.
At only 20 years old, Amna has already broken all records for Arab females in motorsport. In 2018, she competed in the Italian F4 Championship with the championship-winning Prema Powerteam, her highest place finish being 12th, and finished 16th out of 54 drivers in the prestigious X30 Euro Series in Wackersdorf, the only female to reach the final. In 2019, she won the F4 Trophy race at Yas Marina with Abu Dhabi Racing, becoming the 1st woman to win in an F1 supporting series.
Amna made her F3 debut in the Asian Regional F3 Championship with Abu Dhabi Racing this year. The Asian F3 series is one of the favourite destinations for international drivers targeting a quality winter series in preparation for their European schedules. In 2020, the category saw entries such as F1 driver Nikita Mazepin, previous F2 driver Tatiana Calderón, as well as F1 driver Pietro Fittipaldi and inaugural W Series champion Jamie Chadwick.
While Qubaisi ended her time in the trimmed-down Asian F3 series in February in 19th, She is pursuing a seat in the Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine, which currently houses 21-year-old Spanish driver Belén García and 23-year-old Swiss driver Lena Bühler as its sole two female participants. On the whole, with an impressive number of record-breaking achievements to her name, Amna’s career is definitely one to watch for the future.
The 18-year-old British driver impressed many observers last year when she made the transition from go-karts (after achieving two British championship titles) and took place behind the wheel of a Ford-powered Mygale F4 car for the first time. After a relatively impressive start on her F4 debut in 2020 by managing to finish on the podium in her second race weekend, she went on to record four podiums and ten top-5 finishes on her way to a sixth-place overall in the championship. With a particular focus on the second half of the season, she improved at a rapid pace, closing off the year with seven top-6 finishes in eight races, partly thanks to mentoring from W Series driver Alice Powell.
Before her entry into F4, Pulling’s karting career was promising. In 2017 and 2018 she won the Super 1 National Junior TKM Championship and was 2nd in 2016.
As of now, Abbi is taking part in the British F4 season for the second time and aspires to win after such an impressive debut season with JHR Developments. With a series of wins to her name, seeing Abbi’s name in F3 is far from the realm of impossibility. As already proven with her participation in the Formula Renault Eurocup (a Formula 1 support race) with FA Racing in Imola, marking her first time in an F3 specification car. On the whole, watch this space, I know I will be!
📸: Abbi Pulling
Getting into racing as a result of her father Hideki Noda, a former F1 driver (who raced for Larrousse in 1994 for three races), Noda has already made a positive mark in the world of motorsport.
The 15-year-old originally planned to take part in the U.S F4 championship for the 2021 season but failed to feature in qualifying later that day and a statement was issued shortly before the first race of the season by Noda Racing that she’d been withdrawn. Regardless, she made a wholly impressive debut in the Danish F4 championship in the 2020 season where she took pole position and led the whole race, ultimately winning. She went on to achieve 3 podium finishes and finished the season 6th place in the championship, a conclusively impressive debut that generated attention from across the globe - and rightly so. On Tuesday 11th May it was announced last-minute that Juju was to rejoin the Danish F4 for the 2021 season, which is due to begin on 15th May, with Noda Racing and sponsored by Rokit.
It’s clear that the 15-year-old's future is bright in racing as she managed to put on an impressive performance that aligns itself nicely with her great reputation, conclusively making her one to look out for.
📸: Juju Noda
Despite only having started karting in 2016 by delightful spontaneity, the British driver has already had an impressive start to her career. Aiming her career towards Indycar and the Indy500, the 18-year-old was shortlisted for The Sunday Times “Sportswomen of the Year” award in 2020, testifying to her achievements thus far. Emily won her first-ever championship, the BMKC Junior Championship, in 2016, and is the only female to have done so. She continued to impress from then on when she made the move from karting to cars, making her debut by taking part in the Ginetta Juniors in 2017.
In 2018 she raced for Richardson Racing for her first full season in Ginetta Juniors. Emily is the first and only female to stand on the podium in the Lucas Formula Championship Championship in 2020 with her five top 5 finishes causing her to finish 7th overall. As of now, Emily is taking part in the U.S F4, which began in March, as her debut season with the female-owned F4 U.S team Kiwi Motorsport. Clearly a talented driver, and with an impressive season-opener under her belt, it’ll be exciting to follow her progress throughout F4 and beyond.
While I only discuss four, the 2021 racing season features many female prospects who are making either their debut into single-seater racing or are taking the next progressive step. Hamda Al Qubaisi, the sister of Amna Al Qubaisi, begins her first season in Italian F4 in May with the highly respected PREMA after achieving 3 wins in the UAE F4 series. Maya Weug, supported by Ferrari Driving Academy as of this year, will also be racing in the Italian F4, and 16-year-old American Chloe Chambers will be racing in the U.S F4 as her debut into single-seaters.
The obstacles faced by aspiring female racers remain unfortunately much higher than their male counterparts, but the possibility of a woman competing in Formula 1 has never looked more possible than it is now. As a result, following female racers as they navigate through their racing careers is not only exciting but revolutionary.
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