Millennium Post
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Saudi woman drives F1 car to mark end of ban

Le Castellet (France): Renault stole a march on their Formula One rivals on Sunday when they gave a Saudi Arabian woman a chance to mark a special day by driving one of their cars ahead of Sunday's French Grand Prix.

On the same day that women celebrated being allowed to drive on the roads of Saudi Arabia, Aseel Al-Hamad, the first female member of her national motorsport federation, took the wheel of the same car in which Kimi Raikkonen won the 2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

She was part of a Renault 'passion parade' hours ahead of the first French Grand Prix in a decade and the first to be held at the Le Castellet circuit for 28 years.

Aseel, who is a member of the FIA Women in Motorsport Commission, is a keen driver and motor sport enthusiast who took part in a training day on June 5 at the circuit.

"I have loved racing and motorsport from a very young age and to drive a Formula One car goes even beyond my dreams and what I thought was possible. "It is a genuine honour to drive in front of the crowds at the team's home race in France.

"I hope doing so on the day when women can drive on the roads in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia shows what you can do if you have the passion and the spirit to dream."

Aseel is responsible for creation of strategies to promote the education and training of women in motorsport in Saudi Arabia.

Michele Mouton, a former rally driver and president of the Women in Motorsport Commission, said she hoped Al-Hamad's example would help pave the way for more women to embrace careers in motor sport.

Women in Saudi Arabia were able to take to the roads at midnight, ending the world's last ban on female drivers, long seen as an emblem of women's repression in the deeply conservative Muslim kingdom.

The lifting of the ban, ordered last September by King Salman, is part of sweeping reforms pushed by his powerful young son Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in a bid to transform the economy of the world's top oil exporter and open up its cloistered

society.

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