It was a disappointing first round of the season for 2021 Formula 3 Champion Dennis Hauger, who came away from his Formula 2 debut with a zero next to his name, but the PREMA Racing driver was remaining optimistic, insisting that the “pace is there.”

Unlike his 2021 F3 rivals Jack Doohan, Clément Novalak, Olli Caldwell and Logan Sargeant, who all enjoyed at least a round of F2 last year, Hauger was making his first competitive experience in the more powerful machinery.

Qualifying in 15th, Hauger gave himself a lot of work to do in the races.

“It is quite a different mindset from F3,” explained Hauger. “It is about keeping everything cool and keeping the tyres in the window. With all of the fighting going on at the same time, it is easy to get a bit overexcited and destroy your tyres, so there are things that I can work on for next weekend, but overall, the main focus will be on Qualifying.

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Hauger made his competitive debut for PREMA in Sakhir
Hauger made his competitive debut for PREMA in Sakhir

“We had similar pace to Jehan (Daruvala), but I made a mistake on the last corner of the last push, which was the lap we needed to put it all together. I’d have been in the top 10 if it wasn't for that, so the potential is there. I just have to keep my head calm and keep working on what I have been doing.

“If we are starting in the top 10, then the weekend gets a bit easier as you aren’t in the fights as much. With the format that we had last year, it was a bit easier for anyone to be up there, whereas now, it is more about pure pace, so I think if we can get our Qualifying right, we’ll be good.”

Hauger only missed out on the points by one position in the Sprint Race and was then forced to start from the pits in the Feature Race as he failed to get off the line for the formation lap.

Working his way up to ninth, Hauger pitted during a late Safety Car period and lost one of his tyres as he attempted to return to the track, which resulted in the end of his race.

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Hauger missed out on the points by one place on Saturday and was forced into retirement on Sunday
Hauger missed out on the points by one place on Saturday and was forced into retirement on Sunday

“If it wasn't for the pitstop, I would have theoretically been P7, so there are definitely positives to take from it,” he asserted. “I started in the pits and made it up to P9, so that shows that the pace is there.

“We made decent steps forward during the weekend. Ninth wasn’t too bad in the Sprint Race, but I think that I was maybe too cautious. I improved on this for the Feature Race, and I think we were looking okay.

“In the Feature Race, I just went for the moves and that gave me confidence. For next weekend, I will keep my head down in Qualifying and keep it clean so that I can be in that top 10. I think that we have the pace to do it, it is just about reaching our potential and putting everything together.”