He may only just have started his car racing career, but Graham Rahal made a strong impression on his A1 Grand Prix debut at Fundidora Park in Mexico over the weekend.

Drafted into the Lebanese team courtesy of links to the country through his paternal grandfather, Rahal Jr was thrown straight into action during free practice and showed sufficient promise to be retained for qualifying and both races on Sunday.

Qualifying 16th - alongside Great Britain's Robbie Kerr - belied the pace that the youngster had shown in practice, but he quickly began to make up places in the sprint race, moving up two positions on the opening lap. Another two cars were disposed of on the first restart after a prolonged safety car period, and an eventual 13th finishing position was only reached after Rahal lost a place in the closing stages, the result of electronic problems.

The feature race did not produce such a good getaway as Rahal reacted cautiously to a standing start, crossing the line in 15th place. As the leaders made early mandatory tyre stops, however, the Team Lebanon car moved up the order, running as high as second before pitting for new tyres. Despite a solid stop from the team, Rahal was returned to the track in 15th spot, and gained just one place to finish 14th overall. Both results, however, were the best achieved by the team this year.

Seat holder Tameem Auchi admitted that he had been impressed Rahal's performance, and said that he expected to see him in the car again this year, despite the presence of both Basil Shaaban and Khalil Beschir in the squad.

"Rahal has made a promising start and has impressed us all with the speed with which he has acclimatised himself to the A1 car and A1 Team Lebanon," Auchi said, "Throughout the weekend, he has shown his maturity and professionalism, both on and off the track, and we should not forget that this is his first weekend in the A1 car and he's only 17 years old.

"He is a valuable addition to our driver line-up and we welcome his contribution. We're certainly improving as a team and I hope that we can continue to make progress in the final races of the season."

 

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