Kush Maini endured an up and down weekend to kick off the 2024 season. Having secured pole, the Invicta Racing driver ultimately lost the prime grid slot after a post-race disqualification for a technical infringement.

The Alpine Academy talent showed that his pace was genuine, with a strong effort to come through to P13 in Friday’s Sprint Race, and he went even better in the longer Feature Race on Saturday.

Starting from P22, Maini pulled off plenty of overtaking moves on his rise up into the points, eventually crossing the line in seventh position. Despite taking points away in what was a tough race for him and the team, the obvious thought of what could’ve been remained.

“Obviously we were on the back foot after Qualifying,” Maini reflected. “In my books, we got pole, but it was just a frustrating weekend though I think we did the best that we could considering.

“I think I still could have driven a little bit better at the end of that. I think P5 was on the cards today, but things happen, and we’ll move forward. But we know that the car is quick and we’re all feeling confident.”

Despite strong single lap and race pace Maini leaves Bahrain with mixed emotions
Despite strong single lap and race pace, Maini leaves Bahrain with mixed emotions

Analysing where he thinks the race got away from him, the Indian driver admits that his approach to the second stint on the soft compound tyres was the culprit. Attacking too much too soon, he ultimately suffered for it late on in the race as teammate Gabriel Bortoleto was able to end up two places ahead in fifth.

Still, Maini was enthused to be able to see where the team can make steps to improve having already started the season off in such a strong position pace-wise.

“I think I could have just kept calmer in the car. All the frustration from the weekend had been building up and that may have got to me in the end, and I just pushed too hard on the softs too early. I should have played it slightly smarter.

“It’s a positive result to take still. Both cars are really quick, and I think we’re just going to build on it from here. Like I said, in my book, we got pole and hopefully we can keep that streak going and I’m looking forward to Jeddah.

“It’s been a great start for us as a team. There’s definitely still stuff to work on, but that’s good because we know where to find more time. I’m sure we’re only going to get stronger from this point onwards.”

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With little time to rest, Maini and the rest of the F2 grid shift focus to Round 2, with Jeddah following on immediately next weekend.

It’s a venue Maini has previous good form around, having taken P4 in Qualifying on his first visit to the circuit last season with Campos Racing.

Keeping his cards close to the chest, the Invicta driver said that he expected to be at the sharp end but was saying no more as to what he and the team might be capable of.

“I think we’re going to be fighting at the front but all we can do is our best, that’s all I can say.”