Aseel Al-Hamad of Saudi Arabia drove a 2012 Lotus Renault F1 car on the very same day that a driving ban was lifted on female drivers on the Gulf kingdom’s roads.
Al-Hamad is the first female member of the Saudi Arabian Motorsport Federation to drive around the French Grand Prix circuit. This past Sunday, she took the 2012 Lotus E20 out in front of thousands of fans, saying that she felt she belonged in the driver’s seat.
“I believe today is not just celebrating the new era of women starting to drive, it’s also the birth of women in motorsport in Saudi Arabia,” she said during an interview with Reuters.
“The most important thing I am looking forward to is to start seeing the next generation young girls trying (motorsport). I want to watch them training and taking the sport very seriously as a career. This is going to be really my biggest achievement.”
The Saudi interior designer and businesswoman had driven the E20 around Paul Ricard before, part of a familiarization day. She’s also the first woman to import a Ferrari to Saudi Arabia, and has taken part in track days, workshops and professional racing courses around the world, in her 458 Spider.
As for the Renault-powered F1 car she drove on Sunday, it’s the same one that Kimi Raikkonen drove to victory in Abu Dhabi in November of 2012.
“It was perfect. Everything was smooth, I felt I belong in the seat,” she added. “I loved the fact that there was an audience around…today is magical.”