MP Motorsport’s Dennis Hauger hit the ground running in Jeddah, finishing Practice as the fastest driver on a 1:43.793 to lead the way.

The Norwegian was constantly vying for the top spot with ART Grand Prix’s Victor Martins and Invicta Racing’s Kush Maini, though ended up best of all thanks to his final flying lap.

After jumping out of the car, Hauger said that the session had gone smoothly and given the team a great platform to build from ahead of Qualifying. He also highlighted improvements they had achieved following Round 1 in Sakhir a week ago.

“Overall, it felt pretty good, still missing a bit in sector one compared to Victor but overall, we were strong across the whole session, always top two every time we went for a lap. Good feeling overall and a good confidence boost for Qualifying this afternoon.

“Honestly it was quite an unknown with the medium tyres that we’ve never tried before, with a new car on this track. High speed didn’t seem like our strongest fit in Bahrain which is quite a big thing here with the high-speed stuff. It seems like we’ve figured quite a few things out and I’ve been around here before, a few other guys haven’t.

“We were up there all the time, and I was hoping for it, but you never know. It was a good start to the weekend though.” With just the one Practice session available to teams and drivers, the Red Flag for Rafael Villagómez’s collision into the wall limited running even further.

READ MORE: PRACTICE: Hauger leads the way in Jeddah Free Practice

The MP driver indicated that it had a smaller impact on his run plan due to the timing, but that everyone would still be building up confidence levels around the high-speed Jeddah Corniche Circuit.

Hauger was satisfied with the session though, indicating that he’d found a few things to improve from last year’s visit to Jeddah.

“To be honest, last year I was struggling in Qualifying here. I tried to work on the things I was struggling with last year in this session.

“There’s still some work to do but experience around this track – it’s an amazing circuit. The driver in terms of the feeling, we have to push to the limit up close to the walls and be on the aggressive side. That was fun and it’s always nice to be up at the top before Qualifying.

Hauger says MP have no reason not to feel confident of their chances heading into Qualifying
Hauger says MP have no reason not to feel confident of their chances heading into Qualifying

“The Red Flag was more or less right on the spot in terms of what our plans were to come back into the pits. We probably would’ve only done one or two more push laps before pitting.

“It didn’t change much for us but it’s a track where you can easily end up in the wall. You have to push and be close to the walls, so I was expecting someone to cause one in Practice, there’s one every year. It’s just about building up to it around this track.”

Looking ahead to Qualifying, Hauger expects things to take a huge step forward as conditions evolve massively. Along with the switch to the purple-marked supersoft Pirelli tyres, cooler track conditions will bring additional laptime and drivers will have even more confidence to push to the very edge.

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Having topped the opening session, the MP driver says the team can be a factor come Qualifying, but work will now be going into adapting their current setup to pre-empt the change in track conditions later on.

“The track will change a bit. Temperature is going down more and more in the afternoon, and we’ll be going onto the supersofts, so that will be interesting to see, but it’s a good feeling to start with.

“We’ve got to keep working with the team, look at what we can improve. Going onto the supersoft, it’ll be important to try and find the right balance which is unknown with those tyres. We’ll see how it goes, but I think we’re in a good spot and can keep on working from here and go into Qualifying with our heads high.”