We talk funding, the future and who will win the 2010 Bahrain Grand Prix
Time Out Bahrain staff
What’s been your greatest achievement to date? Winning two championships in the Middle East. The first was the 2005 Formula 4 Championship in the Middle East, the second was at the Castrol Academy in 2008. This year I am hoping to win the Supercars in the Middle East. I’m currently second, but I’ve been doing really well in the past two rounds closing the gap on the leader. The final race will be in Riyadh on March 31.
Is getting to Formula 1 the goal?
Every driver’s goal is to get to Formula 1, that’s the peak. We don’t have many Arabs in motorsports, but things are changing. Six years ago, no one knew anything about Formula 1, and now everyone follows it and is eager to know who is winning and who’s up front.
Arab participation in the sport has traditionally been low. Why is that?
Europeans started a century ago; we started a decade ago. So we don’t yet have the infrastructure. But a lot of the Bahraini drivers, those that have the money, travel to the UK and train there. But a lot of people are quite scared to embark on something they don’t know. They don’t know what the processes are and how to go about starting a training programme.
So what needs to happen for a Bahraini driver to get a real shot at the top? First of all, companies in Bahrain need to understand the sport . People here in the Middle East see sponsorship as charity. They don’t think that if they sponsor a guy and he wins their image will be out there, and so it is advertising. It is a very good opportunity for them, but unfortunately they don’t understand that.
In five years time where do you hope to be? It is kind of tough, because after all these years you start to think, ‘Do I want to do this, or do I want to concentrate on my education?’ I work in a bank right now. I work during the day, train in the evening and study at night.
So if you take racing forward now, it will become a full-time career? Sure, the closer you get to Formula 1, the more committed you have to be. People start asking you to sign contracts, after which you can’t say, ‘Sorry I am at work, I can’t make it.’ And the older I get, the more responsible I feel, and I don’t want to end up in five years time with nothing. If I did choose racing, I would hope to be at Formula 1. But that is tough.
Who win this year’s Bahrain Grand Prix? Lewis Hamilton - he is young and he started young. Michael Schumacher will have some difficulties. He insists that he will do well, but I think the first three rounds will be dominated by McLaren, Lewis Hamilton in particular. He knows the car well and will dominate. Raed will compete in the Chevrolet Supercars Middle East Championship during the F1 weekend.