Meet Saad Ali
The guy who could possibly become our first F1 driver. It’s not something you’d expect in Pakistan where there aren’t proper race tracks, the main sports obsession is cricket and the most common form of racing is drag racing on the streets late at night.
He’s not there yet, but he’s overcome a shit load of hurdles
Before Saad Ali can compete in Formula 1, he has to conquer the Formula 3, GP3 and GP2 classes, seen as stepping stones on the road to Formula 1. Regardless, his story is one of inspiration to everyone in Pakistan. Ali dropped out of college so that he could pursue his passion of racing.
Ali dropped out of college so that he could pursue his passion of racing. But things weren’t easy; they never are in Pakistan or anywhere else in the world when you go against the norm. But he got his big break in 2014 when he won third place twice in one weekend at the Formula Gulf 1000 series in Abu Dhabi.
“…proof to me that this is something that I could pursue and achieve”.
Not only is it tough, it’s also extremely expensive
Since professional racing isn’t a popular thing in Pakistan, sponsorships are hard to come by. Saad says he’s been racing by himself without any support, but he continues to do so while flying the Pakistani flag on circuits. Fortunately for Saad (and Pakistan), he’s been able to fund himself thus far thanks to the money he earned from his job at Swiftclick and his documentary film.
What many people don’t realize is that motorsports are extremely expensive. As Saad told AFP, “for motorsports you need that expertise, you need those mechanics, you need facilities, infrastructure, you need that architecture to actually perform.” So far, he’s had to settle for the simulator in his house to keep him sharp.
A lack of official motor racing in Pakistan will make it difficult for Saad Ali to find sponsorship or funding
For the remainder of his races in 2016, Ali estimates that he’ll need around $2 million in sponsorship over the next three or four years to achieve his dream (if you’re reading this and have massively deep pockets, help the guy out).
An economic case for race tracks in Pakistan?
There is a significant economic opportunity in developing race tracks. While speaking to AFP, Babar Khan, editor of Pakwheels.com, stated that “Motorsports isn’t just a sport, it is a massive capital generating programme as well.”
“Engineering development that goes on in the car, the training of the driver, the staff and students, the product and the commercial development, it has a trickle-down effect on local businesses who could develop and export parts from here.”
For Saad though, it’s not just about just the capital gains associated with building race tracks.
We all know that races take place on the streets late at night. We also know that accidents happen during those races and many young Pakistanis, unfortunately succumb to the injuries from these accidents.
Source: Pakistan Today
Saad believes building proper racetracks would save the lives of these restless individuals who will remain undeterred by even the prospect of death.
Ali realizes how difficult the path ahead is
He knows that competing against the best drivers in the world is. But, Ali believes, if he was given the opportunity, he would “definitely achieve a lot more … The thrust is there, the desire is there, the fire and the hunger — everything is there”.
Best of luck to Saad – hopefully we’ll all be seeing him amongst the best very soon.
Oh, and a mighty congratulations to him for what he’s achieved already given the odds and whatnot.
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