With an all-new Formula 2 car to get to grips with ahead of the start of the 2024 campaign, each team on the grid spent pre-season looking to learn as much as they could about the new machinery at their disposal.

Hitech Pulse-Eight found the whole experience productive, with Team Manager Clive Hatton revealing that the three days of data collecting and analysis went as smoothly as one would expect given the limited running on day one thanks to torrential rain.

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They now leave Bahrain with plenty to chew on but also with a positive mood within their camp. That is important considering that Hitech’s eighth-place finish in last year’s Championship was the first time they had ended up outside the top five in the Standings in their four years in F2.

“The mood in the garage is positive,” said Hatton. “Everyone has put in a lot of hard work the past few weeks to get the cars ready and they both ran smoothly. At the same time, it's the start of the season so we can't relax just yet, we need to keep focused.

“The three days have been productive. With a new car there is plenty of items to test. Some tested items worked, and some didn't. We will analyse the data back at the factory to keep improving the car on track.

Aron and Cordeel are new to the Hitech team in 2024
Aron and Cordeel are new to the Hitech team in 2024

“So far, the new car is good, the two cars ran smoothly over the test. A few little things to work on but that's normal for a new car.“

Comparing the feeling they have now to the one they had at a similar point last year where they were heading into the season after finishing fifth in 2022, Hatton says the new car makes for a difference.

“This time last year was easier having ran the car for many years previously,” he explained. “We knew what worked so it was just about getting the drivers up to speed with the car and the team.

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“Whereas this year the team are gaining an understanding of the new car as well as the drivers so there is a lot more going on.”

As the Hitech Team Manager mentioned, with a much-changed driver line-up, the team would have also been hard at work looking to learn as much about their new duo just as much as the new car.

Their line-up this year consists of Amaury Cordeel, who has two years of previous experience in Formula 2, and rookie Paul Aron.

Cordeel completed 171 laps and looked to have strong pace on his long runs, with Hatton revealing that his experience in the competition has served invaluable when it comes to feedback regarding the new car.

Aron, on the other hand, makes the step up to Formula 2 after a strong lone campaign in Formula 3 where he placed third in the Drivers’ Championship. There were good signs for the Estonian driver at testing, with the 156 tours of the track only serving to help build his confidence.

Cordeel completed 171 laps across the three days of pre-season testing in Sakhir
Cordeel completed 171 laps across the three days of pre-season testing in Sakhir

“Both drivers got on well over the test,” said Hatton. “They have both worked hard over the winter, attending the workshop, and doing plenty of simulator work.

“Paul is keen and working hard to get up to speed as quickly as possible with F2. Amaury’s experience having driven the previous car for the last two years was good to have, he was able to give comparison between the two cars.”

But despite all the data collected, Hitech, like each team on the grid, will still have no clear insight into where they sit in the hierarchy and especially where they rank when compared to their rivals.

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Hatton explained why this is, and why even though his team believe they are in a decent position heading into the 2024 season, there is still so much they do not know about their rivals’ performance.

“It's difficult to gauge pace after just three days of testing,” said Hatton. “Everyone is doing different run plans, using different tyres, and running different fuel loads and possibly even weighing the cars down.

“So really you have no idea until that first qualifying session when everyone is on the same tyre and a light fuel load. With a new car there is also still so much to explore so it will come down to which teams have found the most performance over the three days.”