2024 FIA Formula 2 Round 1 Post Sprint Race Press Conference

FIA Formula 2: Welcome back to Bahrain everybody and it’s time for the press conference with the top three finishes in today’s FIA Formula 2 Feature Race. In third place we have Paul Aron from Hitech Pulse-Eight, second is Josep María Martí from Campos Racing and your race winner once again is Zane Maloney from Rodin Motorsport. Zane back-to-back wins here in Bahrain, could you have even imagined such a strong start to the season?

Zane Maloney: No, not at all. From the test we knew already we had very good pace since Barcelona like I said yesterday. But we didn’t expect to be winning two races by 5 seconds, that’s unbelievable. The team just gave me a great car. We were going through it last night, obviously we didn’t run the Prime hard tyres so we were going through which one we should compromise on in terms of balance for the race. The one that we compromised worked perfectly. In general, both tyres felt great. Of course, when you have days like these, weekends like these you just need to stay in the moment. But also know that there are still many rounds left and many different tracks to also perform at. I will celebrate tonight and then move on straight away to Jeddah.

FIA Formula 2: The start of the race is crucial for your hopes getting yourself out in front. Once you’re in the lead did you feel that yesterday gave you the confidence that you would be able to control the pace from there?

Maloney: Yeah, for sure I didn’t really know what to expect. It’s a lot harder than yesterday. The tyres were reacting a lot more differently, a lot more thermal degradation. Like I said, we were trying to compromise one tyre to help the other. I am not going to say what we were trying to do but I wasn’t quite sure what was going to happen with that. Once I got a few laps in and I realised what pace we had I kind of was just managing until my engineer Stu told me to give it everything. I did that, boxed and then the main part of the race was the safety car restart.

FIA Formula 2: You’ve praised the team on both days for the victories but what about yourself, what have you been doing during the off season and during testing to make another step this year?

Maloney: When I say team, I mean of course Rodin but also everyone else surrounding me; ADD management, my coach Shaun. I was training as hard as I can during the off season. Of course, you do that every year, but I do feel like I am a step above fitness wise, mentally as well. A lot of sim days and just really looking back at last year and through Christmas, I like watching the races back on F1TV. Honestly 100s of hours just watching the races and seeing what I could have done better, what everyone else did good vs bad, you learn so much from that. Generally, I think that’s what it is and then just a small mindset change. Going with a bit more confidence in myself and know that I can go and do it. That obviously showed this weekend but there’s still so much work to do this year.

FIA Formula 2: Well, it’s clear that has paid off this weekend. Well done for both victories. Pepe third yesterday, second today and from 11th on the grid you must be thrilled with your return for this weekend.

Josep María Martí: Yeah, I had a really strong start to the year last year with P1 and P6. To be honest starting 11th I didn’t feel like I would top that. I feel like we as a team have worked really hard, we had a really good car and it showed. In the races we were extremely competitive it’s a shame that I couldn’t really bring the fight today to Zane because I felt like yesterday, we were stronger. I feel like today we went a little bit in the wrong direction. I mean the car was still visually fast and it felt fast so to be the second quickest car on track both on Option and Prime it is really rewarding. For the team as well, I am really proud of them. I am really proud of everyone that surrounds me as well because without any of them a peace is missing and the whole thing doesn’t work. Thank you to all of them as well.

FIA Formula 2: You mentioned the tyres there, the softer compound looked like the one to start on given the way the race panned out in the end. How much fun was the opening stint, trying to make moves on those who had gone in the opposite direction.

María Martí: It was fun, but at the same time it wasn’t that comfortable because for me it was my first experience racing compound against compound so I didn’t exactly know how much grip they would have. It’s different conditions to yesterday so it wasn’t really clear. After the safety car restart, I was actually surprised because I think Bortoleto had some damage. He was really quick down the straight and when I got to Turn 1, I was like, ‘should I go for it, should I not, I have to.’ So, I went for it and then I still managed to get quite a decent exit, so I went past Dennis (Hauger) in T4, so almost a back-to-back move. I had Zak (O’Sullivan) in front who was quite quick in the beginning of the race, I think at the beginning of both stints. It was a bit more challenging to get close to him and then make the move stick. I am really happy with the way the race panned out and the overtakes overall. I think we were pretty efficient in the way we raced and the way we thought our strategy out. Yeah, I am really happy to get P2.

FIA Formula 2: You mentioned the strong start you had last season but stepping up to Formula 2 and having a strong start to this year, what has that done to your confidence looking ahead to the rest of the year?

María Martí: Well obviously I am really confident now going forward, maybe not as much as Zane. Very confident. I think for me the real season starts next week. I feel like you can have a really good Round one, but we had three days of tests. From now we don’t. From now we have Jeddah, a new track for me, a new track for all the graduates. I think that’s where the experienced drivers will probably get a little bit extra above us and a decent Free Practice which is where you really figure things out. Then we go to Melbourne and other tracks, so we don’t have that luxury of having three days of testing ahead of every race. So, for me the real season starts this week.

FIA Formula 2: Okay thank you very much, well done this weekend. Paul coming to you, speaking of graduates, a podium to kick off your first full season in Formula 2, just how good does that feel?

Paul Aron: It feels amazing. We finished P5 yesterday; we had a very positive race, so I expected to be strong today but at the same time I tried to keep my expectations as low as possible and hope for a pleasant surprise and it came. So, I am very happy and proud of the team because ever since we have started off it wasn’t the easiest. If we looked back at testing, if you have had asked me then am I expecting to finish on the podium, I would have just hoped for points. I think we have made a huge leap forward. I am very proud of the team and very proud of myself. I had a lot of fun today and yesterday, so I really enjoyed my first two races in Formula 2.

FIA Formula 2: Let’s focus on today, from P12 on the grid for you. There were a lot of close fights out there, it looked a bit up and down at times. How did it playout within the cockpit?

Aron: Honestly, it was a crazy race for me, it felt like it passed in a few minutes because there was just so much going on. We started from 12th, I had a really good first lap, but we were on the Prime tyres and all the guys around were on the Options. I really struggled in the first Safety Car restart, I couldn’t get my breaks working and I went wide in basically the last corner when we restarted. Which put me a bit on the back foot. I just stayed calm, I saw we had a good pace, and we have a good car. I trusted the team with the strategy and then finding out that we have a 5-second penalty for speeding in the Pit Lane was not a pleasant surprise. To be honest, I didn’t know exactly where I did it, maybe I didn’t understand that in the moment but it’s definitely something to look back on and work on for the next weekend. I think the Safety Car timing was quite good for us, we were on the Option tyres so on the restart I knew I would have an advantage and I had to use it. Then I had a tangle with Richard (Verschoor) which again put me on the back foot. I think our car and myself, the combination, and the pace we had was just so good that we managed to overcome all the struggles. I was pushing flat out at the end to pull a bigger gap than five seconds to P4. I really wanted this podium.

FIA Formula 2: Well, you did a good job. You got a taste for Formula 2 at the end of last season, I know that the cars changed but did that help prepare you in any way for this year making the full step up?

Aron: Yeah, for sure, not pace wise, but the procedures and everything like that for sure it helped, and it took away that first scare. If we look at the starts and so on, I had really good procedures every time, so I am happy about that. Nobody told me racing in Formua 2 was this much fun, I really enjoyed these two days, and I am looking forward to what’s to come.

FIA Formula 2: Zane we are just going to come back to you for one last question, P10 last year in the Championship for you, with this start I guess the only target can be the title this year.

Maloney: I remember Théo (Pourchaire) sitting here, I was where Paul is, and he was asked the same question. He said, ‘of course it’s a long year’ so he was correct. There is such a long year to go. In terms of the Championship, I don’t think anyone could look at that right now. I am just focused on going to Jeddah and having the same experience in terms of pace. Of course, I know every weekend you’re not going to win two races, that is not how F2 works but we need to take this pace over to Jeddah. Once we do that, I can speak to you more about that because I will know that the pace is genuine throughout the whole season. For now, I just need to buckle down with the team. Jeddah almost is the most opposite track you can get to this, so I just need to get mentally ready to send it on the streets.

FIA Formula 2: Already looking ahead, thanks all.