For Hadjar, his first dip into racing formed unforgettable experiences along with a defining moment from the 2022 season. He sat down to reflect on the pivotal moments leading him to his F2 seat.
FIRST TIME KARTING
“I know it was in France. I was five, my first time baby kart basically and I remember it being really bumpy, I felt a lot of vibration and I was really scared to be honest. It really felt fast. Right after that, I knew that was what I wanted to do. It was just one session and then a few laps and that was it.
“I think it was a whole year before I was back in a kart again. My dad got me to a driving school basically at six and after I was done with the school for like six months, he bought me a go kart. I did my first race with it, and I won. It was a track near Paris, really close. I remember it was December 2012, I was doing a lot of laps. I knew I was going to have a race and we're preparing it quite well with my dad. We had a few days of testing, and I won my first race there on the first attempt. I felt like I was really made for racing, immediately on it. I remember I won my first race or two. That was it.”
“Growing up, I watched documentaries about Ayrton Senna winning there, I never thought I would be able to drive at a track like that. I remember in Free Practice, I was really off the pace, by a lot. I was like, ‘okay then that’s it, I have a really tough weekend and it’s going to be long.’ But I ended up being in the ballpark at the end of the sessions and I knew I was in a good position to put it on pole, I really felt it. And I actually delivered so I won on Saturday and finished second on Sunday. It was just insane. After that weekend, I got signed by Red Bull.
“When you first go out on track, you’re really low on grip. You're killing the track for everyone. It just feel so narrow, I remember I feel by brain wanted me to slow down but I knew I was so far off the pace and I had to force myself beyond what I thought was enough to go fast, that was the hardest part.
“It was just building data, I was gaining like a second per up until the end of the session and towards the end, I was pretty much there. Whereas the others were really on the limit straightaway but didn’t improve across the whole session. So then, that's when I knew I was going to be quick.
“I just felt so alive with the car, that I was leading by a long way I remember oe second I just felt like I was built with the car. I just felt so confident and it’s the only time in my career I felt like that. I have never felt that quick and that confident in a race car since. I’m trying to reproduce it every weekend, but it’s not happened yet. Maybe it will later this year.”
MONZA F3 HEARTBREAK
“Last year in Monza. It’s a tough one. A horrible experience, but sometimes you think really positive about it, it’s not changing anything in my career. Sometimes you’re like ‘oh, I really messed up.’ It’s part of the process and I was going to make a mistake like that at some point in my career, but I felt after that, it has made me stronger and I’ve learned from that.
“Now I would change my approach for sure if I’m fighting for something. I don’t think I managed the pressure well, I wasn’t on the conservative side at all. Sometimes it paid off but that weekend it didn’t so, it’s now about working hard to make things work out in the future.”