Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad Al Thani drives Williams F1 Simulator

Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad Al Thani of Qatar, owner of the Al-Anabi Group of Drag Racing Teams in the US and the Middle East, and one of the leading figures in motorsport in the region as well as an experienced competition driver, yesterday sampled a different motorsport code behind the wheel of a Williams FW32.

Sheikh Khalid travelled to the team’s headquarters in Oxford, UK, to drive a state-of-the-art “driver-in-the-loop” (DIL) Formula One simulator, which has been developed as an essential tool in the team’s armoury for preparing both its race drivers for Grands Prix while allowing its engineers to test and simulate different car parameters.

The Sheikh’s visit to Williams F1 follows an announcement by the company in October that it was opening a new technology centre at the Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP), in Doha, Qatar. The Williams Technology Centre is undertaking a number of research and development projects at QSTP, one of which is the expansion of its proprietary simulator technologies for competition, road safety and entertainment applications.

Frank Williams, the Williams Team Principal, said, “Our DIL technology here in the UK is the cornerstone of the simulator project in the QSTP, through which we intend to broaden the application of driver simulation to many situations such as road safety education for the public at large or specialist driver tuition such as police pursuit training. Having been most impressed by the ambition, scale and investment in the QSTP and deciding to place our R&D programme in Qatar, it is a genuine privilege to have His Highness Sheikh Khalid take such a personal interest in the programme and travel to the UK to try it for himself.”

Following his experience, Sheikh Khalid said, “The Formula One Simulator is a remarkable piece of technology. I am excited about the possibilities it brings to the Qatar Science & Technology Park. I see that it also provides for possible applications in the planned Qatar Motor City project, where it could be used to train competitive drivers for both oval- and road-course tracks.”

The Williams engineers on hand to assist the Sheikh commented, “Although driving a Formula One car is clearly very different to Sheikh Khalid’s competition experience as a drag racer, it is very evident that he has a great deal of natural skill and his motorsport background means that he is very capable behind the wheel and able to skilfully apply his abilities to a another form of racing.”

Sheikh Khalid’s visit to Williams F1 had a further purpose to explore the potential for a technical engineering relationship to support his Al-Anabi Top Fuel and Funny Car dragster programmes which is managed by the legendary Alan Johnson. The Sheikh met with senior members of the Williams F1 engineering team to explore areas of technology overlap and the potential for joint-venture activity in the future.

Commenting on the engineering discussions at Williams F1, Sheikh Khalid said, “The possibility of combining the technical engineering talents of two legendary auto racing figures, Frank Williams and Alan Johnson, and their respective teams, presents exciting possibilities for my continued efforts to increase the awareness and appreciation of all types of Motor Sports internationally.”

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