Taylor Barnard took the chequered flag at this afternoon’s Imola Sprint Race in seventh place and while he was happy to score his first Formula 2 points, he was just as delighted by the progress AIX Racing have made since the start of the season.

Barnard lined up in P12 and made a strong start, managing to escape without damage after a multi-car collision ahead of him on the first lap, which also involved his teammate Joshua Duerksen.

He then made his way up to seventh and was running behind PREMA Racing’s Oliver Bearman and Invicta Racing’s Gabriel Bortoleto, but he was unable to make a move past the pair.

SPRINT RACE: Colapinto produces final lap overtake to achieve maiden F2 victory in Imola

Reflecting on his afternoon in the car after the Sprint Race, Barnard acknowledged that AIX’s performance was a sign that they can now compete with the “front runners”.

“A little bit disappointing honestly because my initial launch was very, very good,” stated Barnard when asked how his Sprint Race went. “I'm not sure I would have made up that many positions anyway, so again not too bad.

“Obviously, a nasty crash, I know Joshua is okay, but I hope everyone else involved is okay, but it was not very nice seeing that from inside the car.

Barnard has been happy with the performance of his car around Imola
Barnard has been happy with the performance of his car around Imola

“But it was a difficult race for me honestly. I think everyone was having the same issue that we were all stuck behind each other and couldn't really do much.

“But again, honestly very happy with the points, very happy with the pace, we can stay connected to the front runners now. So, we are definitely making progress over the last couple of rounds and happy to score some points.”

It has not been the easiest start to the season for the rookie and AIX as until today’s Sprint Race they were the only team on the grid yet to score points.

QUALIFYING: Bortoleto leaves it late to seal pole position in Imola

However, Barnard lauded their progress, highlighting the difference in the car he last raced in Melbourne to the one that he sat in for Friday’s Free Practice.

“Coming from Melbourne obviously and when I jumped back in here, I could feel that it was a better performing car than what we had before,” he revealed.

“Obviously I've been driving something completely different for two weeks and when I jumped back in, I was already quite confident in Free Practice.

“The first two push laps proved that we definitely made a jump. We were definitely better on pace I would say, and I think Joshua proved that in quali.

Barnard is eyeing more points in Sundays Feature Race
Barnard is eyeing more points in Sunday's Feature Race

“From my side we were a bit out of sequence and a little bit messed up in the second run. Joshua did a good Qualifying, I did a good race, the pace is definitely improving so there is no reason why we can't get more points tomorrow.”

Attentions now turn to Sunday’s Feature Race and despite being happy with how things went today, Barnard says he and AIX are eyeing some overnight improvements in the hopes of scoring more points tomorrow.

READ MORE: Round 4 Post Qualifying Press Conference

“A few things,” said Barnard when asked what he had learned from the Sprint Race. “Tyres obviously, they are main talking point for most of these races. A little bit on car balance, but I think we are definitely getting there.

“We still need to review that because I have not had the chance to do that yet. But the team will review everything tonight and we will try and improve for tomorrow.

“It was a bit of a DRS train after the crash so it's a bit unknown how the race will be playing out tomorrow from P12 at the start. If I can have a good start, make up a couple of places definitely can get a couple more points tomorrow.”