BAHRAIN'S national carrier Gulf Air renewed its sponsorship of motor racing star Hamad Al Fardan yesterday in a deal that will cover all his race-related travel requirements within the airline's network.
The agreement covers all his races this year in the German Formula Three and Austrian Formula Three championships. On his part, Hamad will promote Gulf Air by carrying the airline's logo on his race apparel and car body throughout both series.
The new contract was confirmed during a special signing ceremony held at the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) in Sakhir, attended by Hamad, his father and manager Ahmed, Gulf Air chief executive Bjšrn NŠf, and BIC chief operating officer Shaikh Salman bin Isa Al Khalifa.
"Gulf Air's support will definitely help a lot; I don't have to worry about my travel requirements as much, and I can just focus on preparing myself to race," Hamad told the GDN.
"Last year, I was treated very well by Gulf Air staff from the time I checked in to the time we left the airport, so I'm also looking forward to the more pleasant travelling experience wherever I need to go.
"I hope to be a good ambassador to the airline and help them build their image around the world. I'm really happy to have their support."
The deal presently does not cover Hamad's travel needs when he competes in the GP2 Asia Series later this year, although NŠf said that he remains open to further support when the time comes.
"Our sponsorship of Hamad is a perfect fit for Gulf Air," NŠf commented. "Both the airline and Hamad are global ambassadors for the Kingdom of Bahrain, and we are proud to be associated with him.
"Hamad's racing skills are phenomenal and he is undoubtedly one of the brightest prospects for the kingdom in the field of motorsports.
"We hope to eventually see him compete one day in the Gulf Air Bahrain F1 Grand Prix."
Hamad left for the Netherlands late last night to get ready to compete in the fifth round of the German F3 season, to be held this weekend at the TT Circuit Assen in the northeast of the country.
He will therefore miss round three of the Austrian F3 season, which is set to be held at Germany's Hockenheimring. The conflict in schedule marks the only clash of rounds between the two series this year.
It has been a month-and-a-half since Hamad has been behind the wheel of his car. In the previous round at the Hockenheimring, Hamad clinched his best results of the series so far, finishing seventh and fourth in the weekend's two races. Assen will be the only venue on the German F3 championship outside of Germany.
"This past month has been really good; I was able to relax a bit and rest, so now I'm fully ready for the remainder of the year," explained the Franz Woss Racing ace. "I was also preparing myself with good physical training, working out a lot to keep my fitness up.
"I didn't do any testing during this period so I'm really happy to get back into the car, and I'm looking forward to racing.
"We have made big changes in the car for this round. We have a new engine, and we also made adjustments to some small things as well, like in the springs, so I'm looking for a lot of improvement.
"The team has been testing the car, and they say that it's going to be much better. I hope it is so we can raise our results and put up a stronger challenge in the championship."
Hamad, who is also backed by Gulf Finance House and Bapco, heads into the next round presently 10th on the standings with 12 points. Italian Matteo Chinosi leads with 53, followed by Belgian Frederic Vervisch with 49 and Colombian Sebastian Saavedra with 39.