The UAE’s only F4 driver, Rashid Al Dhaheri, completed round two of the Italian Formula 4 (F4) Championship, with two impressive finishes, but bad luck stopped him competing in Race 2.

The 15-year-old driver from the UAE, contesting only his second weekend, in arguably the toughest F4 series in the world racing, at Misano in Italy, delivered a strong haul of points in his Huawei, FAB and Yas Heat-backed Prema run car, including a celebration on the podium.

With only two days of testing his Tatuus F4 car at the challenging track, near Rimini, Rashid did well to qualify ninth for Race 1 and Race 2, then he went one better to claim eighth on the grid for Race 3.  In qualifying the top 22 drivers were separated by less than one second, with the top ten including Rashid, separated by less than four-tenths!  The Misano weekend covered three races, with Rashid being the youngest driver on the grid.

In Race 1, Rashid turned his ninth place in qualifying into a solid seventh place at the end of an intense 19-lap race won by Taponen.  Taponen was followed home by Lindblad, Wharton, Sztuka, Badoer, Ugochukwe with Al Dhaheri in seventh, but he set the third fastest lap of the race. 

The bad luck hit before the start of the second race when, down to no fault of his own, he was hit in the pit lane and forced to retire.  His car was repaired and he was back in contention for the third and final race of the weekend.  Making  up for the earlier disappointment, he tackled it with extra motivation, with a mature drive that paid off with sixth place, after battling it out with drivers with more F4 experience, he was able to hang in with the top five while setting his best race lap time within three-tenths of fastest lap.

After two rounds Rashid has already shown his class

Departing Misano after his first six races in single seaters, in the world’s most competitive F4 series, Rashid has produced four top-ten finishes and had two retirements.  He is fifth in the table for Rookie drivers and is the only Rookie driver with no previous F4 racing experience.  He is 11th in the overall standings out of 37 drivers.

After celebrating on the F4 Rookie podium, at Misano, Rashid summed up: “All weekend it has been amazing weather for us to do what we love, race!  Again, like Imola, it was a weekend of learning and absorbing, developing ways to move forward throughout the weekend to score some solid results, which to be honest (apart from Race 2) were above our expectations.

“I enjoyed some very tense and exciting battles with other drivers, I felt good overtaking and defending throughout the race in which I learnt so much.  Open-wheel racing is very different to karting but each time I go out in the track it feels more and more familiar,” added Rashid.

Mission Misano accomplished now onto Spa

The Emirati added: “We’re very proud of our Prema Racing team and the work we’ve been able to do together.  We have two weeks to process the lessons from Misano, and we’ll push forward all the time to get better and better results.  Overall, I am happy but, in the end, I am here to work hard to win races. That’s always the goal.”

Next up for Rashid is the hallowed Spa-Francorchamps, the venue of the Belgian Grand Prix, and one of the world’s greatest and most iconic race circuits.  He will be there for another three-race weekend from the 26th to 28th May 2023.