Dennis Hauger put in one of his better Qualifying performances of the season to secure P7 in Qualifying at Yas Marina. The Norwegian was well inside the top 10 for the majority and believes PREMA Racing are in a great position heading into the Sprint Race.
His strong Qualifying means that he will be fourth on the grid for Saturday’s race. Hauger started in the same position back in Zandvoort which translated to his fourth podium of the season, earning third in the Sprint.
According to him, there’s no reason why he can’t replicate that performance around a track that appears to suit the PREMA car more than other circuits on the Formula 2 calendar. Hauger is hoping recent strengths in the form of better race pace bodes well for the remainder of the weekend.
“Obviously Qualifying here went a lot better than other sessions this year, like at Monza where we ended up P19 and had to drive our way forward. We’ve had a better start to this weekend and our race pace in particular looked really good already at the last round. Now we’re starting further up on the grid in a better position, we can push on from there.”
After ending Practice outside of the top 10, there was plenty of work and analysis between sessions to identify the problem areas and address the balance of the car.
Hauger says that the adjustments he made resulted in time gained, but that rivals still had the upper hand when it came to tyre preservation.
Saturday’s Sprint Race is set to get underway at 16:20 local time, almost an hour later than Qualifying took place on Friday. The PREMA driver hopes that the car continues to come to him and teammate Jehan Daruvala as the searing heat falls away in the evening.
“We struggled a bit in Free Practice, especially with balance issues, I played with the brake balance to find some confidence in it. We’ve made some steps and it worked a lot better in Qualifying. We were P4 for most of the session which is good.
“Some people managed to keep their tyres for a little longer on their last push while Jehan and I struggled to keep them in better shape. Overall, it’s been a better weekend so far, better than other races and Qualifying in general this year. It’s a place we can fight from, and we can try to have a good end to the season.”
Hauger is expecting to have plenty to do in order to make it onto the podium in the Sprint despite the circuit being conducive to overtaking, given the two large DRS zones on the straights.
In the end though, he believes that the tyre degradation and ability to keep the Pirelli rubber in as good a shape as possible will provide the biggest rewards, both in the Sprint and the Feature Race on Sunday.
“It’s a better place to start, P4 tomorrow and P7 on Sunday. On this type of track, you can overtake and fight. A lot of things can happen around here, especially with the tyre deg being like it is. There’s always something happening.”