DUBAI: The UAE's young driver Mohammad Al Mutawaa, who is currently attending a programme at the FIA Institute Young Driver Excellence Academy in Austria, is determined to achieve success and drive home a point that the UAE have talented youngsters passionate enough to excel in motorsport.
"I want to reach a high level in motorsport and show people around the world what the UAE is capable of achieving," Al Mutawaa told XPRESS. "It would be an honour to be the first Arab driver in Formula One and I want to spread my knowledge to young Emirati drivers to develop motorsport in the UAE," added Al Mutawaa, who is the first Arab driver to be accepted to this programme.
The 19-year-old was sponsored by Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE (ATCUAE) after he was identified in the UAE Motorsport Star Programme a year ago. "Being supported by the ATCUAE and in particular Mohammad Bin Sulayem (President of ATCUAE), to participate in this programme is a great opportunity for me to understand better the different areas in which I need to improve in order to reach a higher level in motorsport.
"The ATCUAE prepared me for participation through the UAE Motorsport Star programme which made my selection process for the FIA Institute YDEA much easier because I already had the advantage of prior training and knew what was expected from me.
"I had been to the University of Ulster in the UK for an elite athlete training course shortly before the selection event and felt a step ahead of those I was competing against. The ATCUAE have continued to support me during the Academy stint itself through both financial sponsorship and logistical support," he said.
During his stay in Austria, Al Mutawaa will receive driver training from former Formula One and two-time Le Mans 24hr winning driver Alex Wurz, while also learning about performance training and career management from former WRC winning Co-driver Robert Reid.
"The Academy is really exiting, and at the end of the day I am being given the opportunity to do what I love and I always enjoy learning more about racing. There's a great atmosphere at each of the workshops, and it's a great privilege to represent my country at such a level.
"It will make me more knowledgeable about different aspects in racing and from that I can pass down my knowledge to fellow UAE racing drivers to help them improve. And maybe one day I could be a trainer in a UAE-based academy to improve young racing drivers," added Al Mutawaa, who got involved in racing at the age of 14 thanks to his brother Khalid Al Mutawaa who was a racing driver himself.
"With the right approach and planning, and with the help of sponsors, I could be competing in known racing series like Formula 3, GP3, and GP2, before eventually earning a place in Formula One," said Al Mutawaa while sharing his future goals.
Sulayem added: "We have some of the finest facilities in the world for people wishing to start racing, however they are sadly underused. We need to start educating our competitors when they are young, and it is a privilege for the UAE to have one of our drivers taking part in such a prestigious programme and we are very happy and committed to supporting our talented youngsters, who represent the future of the sport in the UAE and Middle East."