EVIAN, France – (June 25, 2015) – At the very least the last three years have been quite a whirlwind for Emirates F1 Team driver Ahmed Al Hameli as the 36-year-old driver has gone from the “brink” of despair to returning to his favorite thing in life, driving once again an F1 H2O boat.
Early in the 2012 racing campaign Ahmed was having it all his own way. He was leading the World Championship standings, starting the season with a victory in Doha, followed up with a pair of runner-up results in Kazan and Kyiv when he was hit by the news that would change his life forever.
After complaining of severe headaches, Ahmed found out that he had a large tumor in his brain and would have to have it operated on immediately. What followed were many months of rehabilitation in the United States at the Johns Hopkins University hospital.
His recovery was remarkable. His determination to return to the driver’s cockpit was swift and shocking to the rest of the racing world. To the amazement of everyone he arrived back in the paddock in early 2013 at the seasons opening event at the Grand Prix of Brazil. “I found out that there was more to life than racing a boat quickly,” said Ahmed. “This was life changing but it also took my determination to a new level. I promised myself that I would not let my guard down even for a moment and I continue to live with that philosophy today.”
Now back in the Team Abu Dhabi boat, Ahmed found out quickly that the pressure to return to form was relentless by the club. With just one top-five result followed up by a single podium finish in three starts in 2014 Ahmed would be axed, ending his eight years with the Team where he won six Grand Prix in 60 career starts.
Standing solidly in his corner was his mentor and boss for all those years in Team Abu Dhabi, Scott Gillman. The Team Manager wasn’t going to budge in his support for Ahmed despite the pressures to drop him.
Just a month before the start of the 2015 campaign both Ahmed and Scott were let go. With no sponsors and no team they would have to work at a meteoric pace if they were to have any dreams of racing at all this season. “I think this was not handled in the right way,” stated Al Hameli. “Scott and I were now determined to to prove them wrong. We put in many long hours to develop a new beginning and we’ve now got the package and a group of supporters that I now believe is a winning combination, on and off the water.”
Signing up with the new F1 Team Emirates organization is the powerful SENAAT Group along with Emirates Steel and Al Foah joining up to support the team as well. Young Swedish driver Erik Stark is coming on board as Ahmed’s teammate for the season, giving the group a strong one-two threat for the championship. “It’s very special to have SENAAT, Emirates Steel and Al Foah on board with us,” said Ahmed. “I hope to perform to the very best of my ability and ultimately win the title.”
So from out of the “ashes” reemerges one of the most talented drivers on the world circuit today.
Losing face with his long time group Team Abu Dhabi, Al Hameli is in France this weekend to do one thing, prove to his old team how wrong they were for giving up on him. At the same time he hopes to make the new F1 Emirates Team a group that the world of F1 H2O racing will look up to as winners.
It all begins on Saturday, June 27th with official qualifying at 16:25 local (14:25 GMT) and the Grand Prix of France on Sunday the 28th at 15:00 local (13:00 GMT) for the second round of the UIM F1 H2O World Championship on lovely Lac Leman in South-Eastern France.