Qatari Sheikh Takes Nation’s F1 First

His Highness Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad Al-Thani of Qatar became the first Qatari ever to drive an F1 car as he took Williams' 2009 car around the Losail International Circuit.

Having completed five laps of the 5.3km track, His Highness gave a glowing review of the experience. “The Williams FW31 is a remarkable vehicle, unlike any other race car I've ever driven. Being the first Qatarian to drive a Formula One car was an amazing experience I will not forget. I am proud that I was able to experience this honour at home in the State of Qatar.”

The day followed an extensive preparation, including a seat fitting and training the team's advanced driving simulator. This was combined with training with the Middle Eastern and US drag racing teams His Highness Sheikh Khalid owns as part of the Al-Anabi Group.

He recently took first place in the Arabian Drag Racing League event at the Qatar Race Club, making the second fastest Pro Extreme run in the world. And his involvement in racing, both Qatari and international runs deeper than simply drag racing. His Highness also heads the development of the Qatar Motor City project, a venue that aims to become an international venue, combining an oval track, road course and drag strip around a whole city dedicated to racing.

Williams also ran some demonstration laps in Losail, with 2010 driver Nico Hulkenburg taking the lead, revisiting the track he had previously raced on as part of the GP2 Asia series.

“It was great to come back here, said the German, “And to provide His Highness with some assistance in his first drive in a Formula One car. Although I doubt the straight line speed compares with a Top Fuel Dragster that he is used to racing, I hope some of the other performance aspects of Formula One technology impressed him.”