Reema Juffali Interview: Saudi Arabia’s first female driver to race in her home

By Freddie Coates and Adam Dickinson

Reema Juffali hasn’t been racing long.

Her first series in cars was last season in British Formula 4 with Double R Argenti Racing.

This year, she is getting prepared for her second season, again with Double R but in the off-season, she had the opportunity to race in the Jaguar i-Pace trophy supporting Formula E in Riyadh as a guest entry.

She became the first Saudi Arabian woman to compete in an international racing event in her home country.

We were able to sit down with her at Donington for the British Formula 4 media test day.

You haven’t really had an off season. Obviously the big thing being the Jaguar i-Pace – that’s completely different to your current series.  

Oh yeah. It was an SUV, it was a heavy electric car. I went into it and obviously said yes because it was my home country not having raced there before. But as a car, it was unlike anything I’d ever driven. For me, it was more about the experience and less about the racing. I mean obviously, being in a street circuit was a really cool thing but in that car. I don’t know. I don’t know if you should say that but.

So was it your first time on a street circuit?

Yeah it was the first time and it was like driving a whale around! “Whoa okay! watch the wall!”

Reema Juffali, Jaguar i-Pace eTrophy, Saudi Arabia (C) Jaguar
Reema Juffali, Jaguar i-Pace eTrophy, Saudi Arabia (C) Jaguar

Hows it been today, obviously it’s your second season in F4

It feels like a completely different track. Just because I’m a little bit more confident. It’s been ok, there’s still a lot of time to find but getting back into the rhythm of things. 

This car, you kind of need to fight it a little bit. You need to a bit more fiery.

Is that with the second season in the car? Are you unlocking a bit more in your understanding?

Yeah, a bit of both, I think. I just finished the UAE F4 and its a different car over there. I came back yesterday and coming in today I’m having to adapt to the change in the car, the brakes, the feel of the car – So that was my first run, now I know what I need to do. Just chipping away at it. Corner by corner. 

Confidence is a big thing I think. Last year I didn’t have much to lose, having to learn as much as I could. Whereas this year; coming in with confidence and a lot more clarity. I’m willing to take more risks and try different things. 

You mentioned the UAE F4 car, what’s the differences with that and the British F4 car then?

It’s a different chassis, different engine, more aero. It’s even more powerful so you get a lot more punch to it. It’s basically a British F3 car but tuned down a bit. With a little less aero. I would say a bit more intuitive.

This car (British F4), you kind of need to fight it a little bit. It’s a bit more aggressive. You need to be a bit more fiery. There it’s smooth, it’s more or a natural feel. So coming in here, I had to make that adjustment.

I would say it was easier to get my head around that car. This car is more forgiving because it’s different, harder, heavier. That one you need to be precise, you have to have the right touch and feel, it’s more of a race car. 

Not saying I don’t enjoy this one, the difference is so minuscule but definitely a fun car to drive as well.

First season you said you have nothing to lose. Second season you arguably do?

More pressure. Definitely. Ideally I want to be fighting in the midpack. Getting racing and more experienced in the wheel to wheel. Getting more confidence there.

At the end of this season, if a podium is in sight then that would be 100% the goal but I don’t want to throw in the expectations and then have that pressure. Definitely finding the pace in the midpack and then if a podium comes along…

Is there a particular thing you’ve been focussing on doing or is it just a case of having that overall confidence and that naturally pushing you forwards?

Yeah definitely that confidence, being in the car and having experience on track in different circumstances and situations, just racing as well, knowing what to do, thinking less, adapting and doing more. Last year there was a lot of thinking to do one thing and that obviously takes away the time. And now it’s just more feel. I think track time is a recipe for success.

The first round of British F4 takes place on the TOCA support package for BTCC on the 28-29 March at Donington Park or on ITV4.