Five minutes with Amro Al Hamad
Written by Oryx
Qatari racing driver Amro Al Hamad has been achieving wins for his country ever since securing the Radical Middle East Cup champion title in 2014. The 33-year-old talks to Oryx about the taste of success, which drives him to race longer and dive deeper.
When did you decide to become a racing car driver?
Since childhood, I grew up with a passion to get myself on anything that would go fast, and my brothers encouraged that ambition. My first official attempt at racing was in 2003 at the NBK National Sprint Championship organised by Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation. Until 2007, training was a matter of trial and error, after which I started rubbing shoulders with international drivers and absorbing their experiences.
In 2011, during the Radical Middle East championship, I teamed with an experienced instructor for more formal training, and ever since it’s been a continuous learning curve.
You studied aircraft maintenance engineering at university. Has that helped with your racing career?
It definitely contributes a lot. Competitive driving is not only about sitting behind the wheel, putting a helmet on, and shifting gears; it’s a relationship between man and machine. My studies gave me in-depth technical insight into the cars I was driving and best techniques to use. It’s also easier for the race engineers to work with a driver who has technical knowledge.
What does it take to become a successful racing car driver?
Patience is the most important quality. Many people get into racing but give up quickly because they think they can instantly get the hang of it and set their expectations too high. Apart from that, taking quick calculated decisions behind the wheel, adapting to changing circumstances, and being able to work within a team makes a huge difference.
You’re also a professional freediver. Why this extreme sport?
Motorsports was filling my plate with so much action, I needed another adrenalin-fuelled sport with a twist of relaxation. I started as a student, and now I’m a Level 1 instructor with Freediving Instructors International. I always wanted to go that extra metre deeper and second longer without breathing. Today, I hold two national records for Qatar. I also won the 2015 best traditional freediver award in the Pearl Diving Traditional Championship organised by Katara.
Which championship do you aspire to compete in?
The 24 Hours of Le Mans, held in France, would be my first choice for competitive circuit driving. I would love to be the first Qatari to raise our flag on the podium at Le Mans.
What thoughts keep you powering through when the going gets tough?
I’ve specialised lately in long endurance races, and chaos often strikes where we get slight delays and drop position. The recognition at the end of it and fear of failure empowers me. I wouldn’t forgive myself if it didn’t end well because I hadn’t tried hard enough.
Where in the world will you travel next, and why?
Kalamata in Greece to attempt to break my personal best record and set a new national record in freediving.
Most racing car drivers retire by the age of 40. What is your long-term ambition?
I want to contribute to the development of Qatar’s new generation of competitive drivers. It would be a great opportunity to guide and deliver through others and pave a better path for motorsport’s future generations.
Facebook: Amro Al Hamad Racing