Dennis Hauger started the Melbourne weekend on the front foot, setting the fastest time in Practice. The MP Motorsport driver’s 1:29.654 was good enough to take the top spot despite late improvement from Campos Racing’s Isack Hadjar, who he beat by just 0.001s in the end.

Speaking after jumping out of the car following Practice, Hauger said the start to the race weekend was hugely positive, with the team’s setup already in a good place ahead of Qualifying.

“It was good overall. I think we had a decent balance from the beginning of the session,” Hauger explained. “We had a small problem at the beginning, so we were a bit out of sequence for that first push lap, but then the Red Flag came out, so I was lucky there to be honest. Otherwise, it would have been a difficult session in terms of getting back on sequence with the others.”

The Norwegian driver also noted that the team had been able to hit the ground running after a strong showing in Jeddah last time out. He secured victory in the Sprint there and finished off the weekend with another podium, this time finishing third in the Feature.

READ MORE: PRACTICE: Hauger heads the field in Melbourne

Hauger says that the momentum he has generated at this early stage in the season is more important than experience he might hold over new arrivals to F2 and Melbourne.

“I feel like we had a good rhythm in Jeddah, and we’ve brought that into this weekend. I know there are a few things to look at from that second run. Some drivers improved but we didn’t, so some things to go into, but it was a good run and start to the weekend.

“To be honest, the drivers that have been here before having only been once as last year was the first time it was on the calendar. So those guys coming from F3 and staying in F2, they all know the track, so I don’t think it’s one of those where experience gains you a lot.

Hauger says the team already has a good balance ahead of Qualifying in Melbourne
Hauger says the team already has a good balance ahead of Qualifying in Melbourne

“With the new car there’s a lot of things going on for us so in that sense, having that feel with the car and team where we’re in a good rhythm, that helps going into the weekend.” Keeping his cards close to the chest, Hauger says that his work in Practice have given the team a good direction to go towards ahead of Qualifying.

With last year’s grid-setting session taking place after a torrential downpour, everyone will be going into the Qualifying session later on with little to rely upon other than instinct. It’s something the MP driver hopes will put him and the team in a strong position having gone so well in Practice right out of the box.

Another dimension will be the step difference in tyre compound compared to last year, with the supersoft Pirelli tyre the compound of choice for the upcoming Qualifying session. With the track continuing to improve on every lap, timing will be crucial in order to extract the maximum from the tyre.

“I won’t go into what or why, but there are things we can take from it that we can improve for Qualifying. It’s quite a specific track with how the tyres behave. There aren’t a lot of other series that drive on this track, so it was really green for us from lap one to the final one.

“It’s different going onto the supersoft tyre, but the car felt really good already. None of the teams have used the supersoft here before as last year we had the soft and then last year in Qualifying we had rain. So, it’ll be new for everyone, track will continue to improve so we’ll have to wait and see.”