Prodigy Rashid tipped to be UAE’s potential F1 driver
abu dhabi — UAE karting sensation Rashid Al Dhaheri had an exceptional season with 14 podium finishes, eight of them in first place and all this from 23 races.
Dhaheri is all of eight years but has established himself in the local circuit by winning everything he competed for. “This season has been fantastic for me. I am very happy,” he said during a media interaction.
So, how good was Dhaheri’s season? He won the Dubai O Plate title for the third time and IAME X30 UAE Championships in Dubai Kartdome and Ras Al Khaimah. He was honoured with the ‘Mohamed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Creative Sport Award’.
More importantly, the year saw his graduation to international scene – Italy and also the next age band – 8 to 12, with him being the youngest.
“Italy was hard as the category was new to me but I gave my best. I am happy with my achievements as I am the youngest in the group and did well. I am looking forward to next year,” he said.
Dhaheri competed and won or made it to the podium in almost every
It’s going to be Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg. It will be tough for Lewis Hamilton Rashid Al Dhaheri
race — the Parolin Academy Championship, the ROK Championship, Italiano Campionato and the WSK Series. The WSK Championship is the biggest and toughest karting event in the world with up to 90 top international drivers competing in the mini category alone. What are the lessons learnt? “I learned never to give up and to give my best. I learn from my mistakes.”
On how he balances studies and racing, he said: “I try to learn as much as I can when I go to school. I get good support from school too. I also go online and update myself.”
Rashid joined Italian ‘Babyrace’ team, which undertakes drivers’ development programmes from karting to GP3. How was his experience so far at ‘Babyrace’?
“I learned how to manage starts, when to block and overtake, when it’s time to catch others. In Italy, the grade is bigger with category from 8 to 12 years. It’s very competitive and got all kind of climate. The competitiveness in Italy is better than the UAE,” Dhaheri said.
Dhaheri keenly follows Formula One and his favourite driver is McLaren-Honda driver Fernando Alonso.
Who do you see winning the title at the Yas Marina Circuit?
“It’s going to be Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg. It will be tough for Lewis Hamilton,” Dhaheri said.
‘Babyrace’ team founder and owner Sandro Lorandi said he had heard about Rashid and was impressed by what he saw.
“He is young, talented, and intelligent and has passion for the sport even for one so young. He also has the support of his family, he could potentially be an F1 driver in 10 years. The best drivers who want to compete globally come to Italy. The likes of Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen and Nico Rosberg all came to Formula One from Italian karting scene.” How you came to know about him? “I heard about him last year and he impressed me for a seven-yearold. Rashid can be first driver from this region to be known globally. Winning races in Europe is recognised worldwide. We have a three year contract. In his category we have seven drivers. He learns very fast and is ready to work.”
On way forward for the eightyear-old talent, he said: “Dhaheri will undergo three-year phase and when he is 14 years old, he will take Formula 4 tests and by 15 years – legal age of driving – he can drive for F4. To reach that position, he needs to be consistent. He will go from GP3 to GP2 and Formula One. We can make him an expert driver… an expert Formula One driver.”
Rashid’s 2017 season, will see him participate in the Italian WSK Championship, the Italian ‘ROK Championship’, UAE Rotax Max Championship of course UAE X30 Emirates Challenge Championship, where he is leading on the Championship, despite being the youngest driver in the field.
UAE karting sensation Rashid Al Dhaheri (centre) addresses the media in the Capital. —