His Highness Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad Al-Thani became the first Qatari to drive a F1 car when he took to the 5.3 kilometre Losail International Circuit in a Williams FW31 on Thursday.
Sheikh Khalid is the owner of the Al-Anabi Group of Drag Racing Teams in the US and the Middle East and he recently took first place at a 2009-10 Arabian Drag Racing League event at the Qatar Race Club, making the second-quickest Pro Extreme pass in the world.
He got the chance to complete 5 laps after travelling to the AT&T Williams team base in Oxford earlier this week for a seat fit and a detailed instruction process in the team's advanced simulator.
“The Williams FW31 is a remarkable vehicle, unlike any other race car I've ever driven,” he commented. “Being the first Qatarian to drive a F1 car was an amazing experience I will not forget. I am very proud that I was able to experience this honour at home in the State of Qatar.”
“It was a privilege to be able to facilitate this historic first for His Highness and the State of Qatar today,” added Williams team principal, Sir Frank Williams. “The team of engineers that worked with Sheikh Khalid reported that he demonstrated considerable skill and aptitude in the DIL simulator at our headquarters near Oxford this week.
“Based on his established competition experience and competence in the DIL, we extended an additional invitation to enable His Highness Sheikh Khalid to drive the FW31, and he acquitted himself with honours.
“We are delighted and honoured that His Highness has not only sampled our simulator technology which is the basis for our recent investment in the Qatar Science and Technology Park in Doha, but that he has now driven the FW31 and can not only draw comparison between the virtual and real world.
“Equally we hope a first-hand F1 experience will assist in His Highness with his future vision for the Qatar Motor City.”
Meanwhile, Nico Hulkenberg and Rubens Barrichello also did some demonstration laps at the circuit as the Grove-based outfit concluded a filming and photography project that will be used by the team's sponsors.