Saudi Arabia's Aseel Al Hamad says 'nothing is impossible' for women in motorsport
Al Hamad believes lifting ban on driving will have telling impact on not just sport but motor industry
As with most achievers, Aseel Al Hamad seems to be keeping an eye on the road ahead of her - literally and figuratively.
The pre-eminent motorsport figure for women in Saudi Arabia, Al Hamad has blazed a trail in many respects. The first woman board member of the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation, she captured the imagination of the wider world when she drove Renault Sport’s Formula One car around the French Grand Prix track this year.
In doing so, Al Hamad became the first Saudi woman to drive an F1 car.
It is no wonder then that she is optimistic about a world full of possibilities. In fact she goes to the extent of saying "nothing is impossible" when she talks about the prospect of women from the Middle East playing important roles in motorsport in the years to come.
Back in June, Al Hamad took the wheel of the same car in which Kimi Raikkonen won the 2012 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to celebrate the Saudi government's decision to allow women to drive on their roads.
She was naturally thrilled about her experience of taking part in a Renault "passion parade" hours ahead of the first French GP in a decade and the first to be held at the Le Castellet circuit for 28 years.
“It felt amazing that I’m representing my country and women of my country by celebrating the first activation driving with this beautiful car," she told CNN.
But even as she delighted in the experience, she was aware of the larger impact of that moment. "I wanted to say to the world that nothing is impossible and Saudi women are capable [of doing] everything,” she said.
“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,” she added.
Live updates on historic occasion: Saudi Arabia lifts ban on women drivers
Al Hamad, who is a member of the FIA Women in Motorsport Commission, said the lifting of the ban on driving will have a telling impact on not just sport but the motor industry as a whole.
“It’s like a ladder," she explained. "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,” she added.
Updated: August 26, 2018 01:06 PM