Aseel Al Hamad, Abbi Pulling, Alpine E20 demonstration run, Saudi Arabia, 2022

Alpine pair become first women to drive F1 cars in Saudi Arabia

2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

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Abbi Pulling and Aseel Al Hamad became the first women to drive a Formula 1 car in Saudi Arabia ahead of the series’ second race in the Middle Eastern nation this weekend.

Alpine handed the opportunity to its Alpine Academy Affiliate driver Pulling as well as Al Hamad, Saudi Arabia’s representative on the FIA Women in Motorsport Commission.

The pair performed demonstration runs between Diriyah and the King Abdullah Financial District in the country’s capital Riyadh last week. This weekend’s F1 race takes place at Jeddah Corniche Circuit in Saudi Arabia’s second largest city.

The duo took turns driving a 2012-specification E20 chassis running a V8 engine, as used by the team when it competed as Lotus. Al Hamad previously drove the car at Paul Ricard in 2018.

Pulling, who turned 19 on the day after her run, was confirmed for her first full season in all-women single-seater championship W Series this year.

“I got my first experience of an F1 car last weekend and it was everything I was expecting, and more,” said Pulling.

“I started racing when I was just eight years old, always with the goal of reaching Formula 1, and I am so pleased to have got that little bit closer.”

Al Hamad said the chance to drive the car again was “even more special to do in my country of Saudi Arabia and my home city of Riyadh.”

“I hope this inspires more generations to fall in love with Formula 1 and for more women to consider motorsport as a future career,” she added.

Pictures: Abbi Pulling and Aseel Al Hamad drive F1 car in Saudi Arabia

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    Keith Collantine
    Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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    9 comments on “Alpine pair become first women to drive F1 cars in Saudi Arabia”

    1. Surprisingly Alpine still uses E20 or a V8-powered car generally for these purposes rather than a recent past V6-powered machinery or even earlier-hybrid era one. Still enough 13-inch Pirellis left for demo runs.
      I doubt Pirelli makes new ones anymore.

      1. @jerejj most teams do. The V8s are much easier to maintain and don’t have the strict safety protocols associated with ERS systems

        1. … and they also sound better

        2. @gardenfella72 Although, Team Enstone has used, for instance, RS18 for other non-event running & Ferrari the SF71H, AT the AT01, etc.
          Mercedes have only ever used their V6-powered cars since 2016 when the earliest one (W05) became eligible for unlimited running. Many teams haven’t really done any demo runs for a while.
          Mainly teams who don’t do PUs & or have a different manufacturer than in the given car’s active season.
          Partly a team-dependent thing. RBR still does demo runs & uses RB7 & RB8 for them.

          1. @jerejj so it’s not all that surprising, is it, considering RB still uses the RB7 and RB8

            It depends what the non-event running is for. If the driver is expected to provide some useful data, there’s more of an incentive to use a later car.

            Mercedes could only run a pure V8 from 2010. It’s the only year they had one as a team rather than engine builder. They were at the forefront of ERS implementation, after all.

            AT run the AT01 because it’s the earliest car they have. Anything prior to that would be a Toro Rosso.

            1. @gardenfella72 AT has also run STR13 & 14. Mercedes at least W03 & 04 most recently in 2015.
              Team identity change is irrelevant as otherwise, Alpine wouldn’t run E20 (nor would’ve Renault) as Team Enstone was Lotus at the time, but yes, non-event running purpose partly determines how a recent car gets used.

            2. @jerejj team identity change is very important. Teams are in F1 primarily for the marketing value.

    2. In case you were wondering who Aseel Al-Hamad is, she is a saudi interior designer

    3. Why is it Alpine E20 if it was made by Lotus (well techically it’s the same factory) but it’s like buying a Toyota Corolla and after a few years rebranding it Fiat Corolla?

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