05:55 GMT +320 June 2019
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    Saudi Woman Takes The Wheel of Formula 1 Car After Driving Ban Lifted

    Aleksei Kudenko
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    Aseel Al-Hamad, the racing enthusiast and the first Saudi woman to import a Ferrari, climbed behind the wheel of Formula 1 car marking both the Saudi driving ban lift and the return of Grand Prix to France.

    Aseel Al-Hamad, the first Saudi Ferrari owner and a racing enthusiast, marked the lift of the driving ban for women in her home kingdom of Saudi Arabia by climbing behind the wheel of Formula 1 car in a parade of French-made vehicles ahead of also historic opening of Grand Prix in France.

    The Grand Prix competition, founded back in 1906, has been put on hiatus in 2008, and returned after a 10-year absence.

    ​Al-Hamad drove the very same Lotus E20, which took Finland's 2007 world champion, Kimi Raikkonen, to victory in Abu Dhabi in 2012. Despite being developed by UK F1 team Lotus, the E20 features both the engine and transmission from France's Renault car manufacturer.

    "I believe today is not just celebrating the new era of women starting to drive, it's also the birth of women in motor sport in Saudi Arabia," Hamad told Reuters. "The most important thing I am looking forward to is to start seeing the next generation, young girls, trying [motor sport]. I want to watch them training and taking the sport very seriously as a career. This is going to be really my biggest achievement."

    Al-Hamad had a training session during a private event on June 5th to familiarize herself with the racing vehicle before taking it to the parade before the eyes of spectators, the Guardian reports.

    "It was perfect. Everything was smooth, I felt I belong in the seat," she commented on her parade driving. "I loved the fact that there was an audience around… today is magical."

    Hamad is the first female member of the Saudi Arabian Motorsport Federation and on the Women in Motorsport Commission (WMC) set up by Formula One's governing body, the International Automobile Federation (FIA).

    Earlier in February, Hamad already made headlines when she joined the "Saudi Women can Drive" event held in Italy.

    Saudi women have been allowed to drive earlier this week, which the women of the Kingdom marked by taking to the roads en masse on the evening of ban lift.


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    driving ban, Grand Prix, Formula One, Aseel Al-Hamad, Saudi Arabia, France
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