On a historic day, as Saudi Arabia finally lifted its ban on female drivers, Aseel Al-Hamad chose to drive a Renault Formula One car to celebrate the momentous occasion.
“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,” the conservative country’s leading female motorsport figure told 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,” she added.
Saudi Arabian Aseel Al-Hamad, the first female member of the Saudi Arabian Motorsport Federation, to drive the @PaulRicardTrack, in the 2012 @RenaultSportF1 car today ahead of the #FrenchGP.
👉 https://t.co/tzyEzSfs7I#RSspirit #RACEday #SheDrives pic.twitter.com/N6WhhUpAWs
— Renault Sport F1 (@RenaultSportF1) June 24, 2018
The New Daily reports that the F1 car she chose, the Lotus Renault E20 was the same one which Kimi Raikkonen, the former F1 world champion, drove to victory in 2012 at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Al-Hamad is also the first female member of the Saudi Arabian Motorsport Federation. For an inordinately long time, many in Saudi Arabia had justified the ban on women driving, stating that it would lead to promiscuity and sin. While women in the country celebrated the end of the repressive ban, many still oppose it. In fact, The New Daily further reports that almost a quarter of those polled in the country, opposed lifting the ban. However, following the crackdown by King Salman last September, dissent is rare.