Hitech Pulse-Eight rookie driver Paul Aron is just a few weeks away from his maiden campaign in Formula 2 but before the 2024 action gets underway, he previewed the year ahead by talking through his and the team’s preparations, expectations, and goals.
Aron enjoyed a stellar season in Formula 3 last year, achieving four podiums across the year, including his impressive eighth-to-first victory in the Spielberg Sprint race, before ending third in the Championship.
The Estonian ace now makes the step up to Formula 2 with Hitech, an opportunity that fills him with excitement. But the challenges of the year ahead are not lost on Aron, as he explained why the start of the 2024 campaign could make for interesting viewing.
Speaking about his emotions ahead of the new season, Aron said: “I am as excited as anybody. Obviously, it's going to be an interesting season in Formula 2 as there is a new car and because of that it is also quite difficult to predict or to expect at the beginning of the season.
“New car means every team has to start from a blank sheet, and a bit the same for the drivers. Obviously experience is still very beneficial as Formula 2 is a very difficult Championship, not only because of the car but because of all the extra factors that come like pitstops and so on.
“But nevertheless, I think it is still an advantage for the rookies compared to having the same car for many years. I am very much looking forward to it and I think the beginning of the season especially will be quite interesting.
“I think the performance of drivers and teams could be quite inconsistent as we have no prior experience with this car. So, yeah it will be a very interesting beginning of the season and I think everybody is very excited.”
Aron may be a rookie, but he comes into the season with more knowledge than some of his fellow newcomers. He not only has prior experience behind the wheel of Formula 2 machinery but also of the race weekend format having driven for Trident in last year’s finale at Yas Marina as well as for Hitech at the post-season test.
The 19-year-old says this means he starts the year without “going into the unknown”, as he has already gotten his first taste of the pitstops, the change from the harder compounds in practice to the softs, as well as the longer Feature Race.
The one unknown for Aron, and for the rest of the grid, will be the new F2 car but he believes he is in the right environment at Hitech to adjust quickly. He cited his new team’s previous success with adapting to rule changes as a reason to be optimistic.
“First season together with Hitech, I've been part of PREMA for many years now, so obviously it’s a change,” admitted Aron. “So far, we've been doing our best to kind of make our ends meet and get along as quickly as possible.
“I've been very impressed with the guys back at the factory, they've been working really, really hard, and I have a feeling this year could be great for me and for them, so very much looking forward to it.
“It’s a bit difficult to expect anything because it’s a new car and you don't have any previous experience or any data from previous years to take, so it will be a matter of who can get on top of it the quickest.
“If we look previously when there was a new Formula 3 car, Hitech were one of the top teams straight away and when they joined Formula 2, when there was the 18-inch rim introduced they were also very quick straight away, it was their best season actually in Formula 2, the first one they did.
“So, looking at previous experiences Hitech has been quite fast to get up to speed, so hopefully it is something that will carry on into the 2024 season, and from my side it is important to adapt to the car as quick as possible and to have a great bond with the team because I think we can put together a great season.”
Having a “great bond” with the team also includes his new teammate Amaury Cordeel. The Belgian is entering his third season in the Championship and while Aron knows it will be important for the pair to work together to push Hitech in the right direction, he remains keen to focus on his own performance.
He has a clear plan of attack, with Aron keen to find consistency and to avoid what he calls “crazy” moves to start the season. However, he does not intend to curb his racing instincts, especially once he gets comfortable in the car, as then we may be treated to more “risks” and “highlights”.
As for his 2024 goals, Aron answers: “I think one of the most simple targets for me and for what I think logically will be for other drivers is top 10 in qualifying. Last year in Formula 3 the top 12 was reversed and as long as you were in the top 12 you could keep your championship alive even if you had a difficult weekend.
“So, in Formula 2 obviously the grid is much more experienced. There are only 22 drivers but over half of them are experienced guys and the level is very high. So, I think a good benchmark is to be top 10 in qualifying because even if we don't have the pace to win or be on the podium on some weekends with the reverse grid you can salvage many good points.
“That's what I did last year in Formula 3, often we didn't have the pace and I just stayed consistent and brought points home at every race basically so that's the goal from my side.”