Dennis Hauger is hoping to turn his fortunes around ahead of the summer break at the Hungaroring. The Norwegian endured a difficult weekend last time out in Le Castellet, ending up taking a 12th and 16th place finish in the Sprint and Feature events respectively.
This weekend though, Formula 2 returns to a happy hunting ground for the PREMA Racing driver. Hauger took victory in Budapest last year in his title-winning Formula 3 campaign, and he’s hopeful he’ll be able to replicate that form this time around on to get his season back on track.
“We had a few good races and quite a few good overtakes last year, I remember it a lot,” he recalled. “It’s looking like it’s going to be wet at some point this weekend. It’s not the easiest track to get overtaking done in the dry but there’s definitely opportunities in the wet. The main thing will be to get Qualifying right which has been a bit of an issue for us so far. That’s going to be our main focus and from then on, it’s easier to get a better and more consistent weekend.”
“The last two times I’ve been here and it was wet I got a podium in the Feature Race, so I definitely like it in the wet here. It’s a cool track, very technical so I wouldn’t mind if it was wet here and there. The main focus is still to fix Qualifying and work on what we have to in the dry but if it does rain, I wouldn’t mind.”
Hauger has taken pole position just once all year long. The Red Bull junior did make great use of his best grid spot though, taking victory in the Baku Feature Race.
Since that weekend though, Hauger has had a torrid time on a Friday, recording a P13, P15 and P18 on the grid at Silverstone, Red Bull Ring and Paul Ricard respectively.
That last weekend was a particularly frustrating one for Hauger, as his fightback from the disappointing Qualifying was undone through no fault of his own, just bad luck as he surmised. Fixing his form then is the pivotal factor heading into Round 10 of the season and one that he hopes will be a good one for him.
“It was a frustrating weekend in general. We had an issue in Free Practice and then a fuel pump problem in Qualifying. We went up a bit in the Sprint Race, but we didn’t have great pace. We tried something different for the Feature Race and I got up to 11th or 12th so that wasn’t too bad, five or six positions. Then I went into Marcus (Armstrong) after his problem so was just a bit unlucky with positioning. After that I had a few banged-up parts on my car. I managed to go up the order a bit, but it was a hard race in general after that.
“A painful weekend I’d say, so I’m definitely trying to turn things around. We’ve been working hard at Red Bull in the simulator between last weekend and this weekend and I’m trying to put my mind to this track and turn things around before the summer break. I think it’s important to get all the feedback in the right direction with the team. Hopefully we can do that.”
Rectifying his Qualifying conundrum will be a multi-part process. Hauger says he’s confident that the PREMA team has great pace in the Sprint and Feature races, but it is currently going to waste due to a lowly starting grid position.
Fixing the one-lap speed will hopefully get Hauger further up the Championship and he’s hoping to make a start ahead of the summer break.
“There are so many factors that goes into play during Qualifying. I’ve struggled to be fully comfortable and confident with the car. It’s been the main issue all season. We had one good Qualifying in Baku and there we got the Feature win.
“As soon as we get the Qualifying sorted out it’ll be a lot easier to progress through the weekend. A bit of balance and just myself getting comfortable with it to unlocking that one push lap in Qualifying. We just have to work around it now but hopefully this weekend we can make that step.
“The first thing to do is get it in the right direction again. We’ve had a few good races this year but it’s definitely been a bit up and down. Trying to get back into a rhythm and then hopefully we can finish in a good way.”