P18 to P7 is hardly a bad day but for Isack Hadjar, his focus is now fully on the European leg of the Formula 2 season. The Hitech Pulse-Eight driver secured yet more vital points with an impressive comeback drive and was happy to have been able to show his speed.
For the Frenchman, P7 ties his highest Feature Race finish of the season so far, and it was a hard-fought reward. Starting from so far back on the grid, Hadjar had hoped for another day of chaos following the Sprint Race. Unlike Saturday, the drama never arrived in the fashion Hadjar had wished, and he was forced to battle his way through the old-fashioned way.
“Honestly, I think seventh was the best we could do. We had that slow stop which I think compromised our chances of the top five. But the pace this weekend was good for the whole race. We had a really good first stint. We extended as much as possible. We were hoping for a Safety Car which never happened. After the pitstop, I set the fastest lap and managed to stay in eighth. That was it for us really.”
Hadjar’s weekend was one of recovery after a difficult Qualifying session left the Frenchman in 18th position. Having to carve his way through the pack, it was Hadjar’s third fight back through the field for a points finish in the Feature Race already this season, having achieved similar feats in Sakhir and Jeddah already.
His Baku efforts also included a fastest lap point, proving just how quick the Hitech Pulse-Eight team is. The issue so far this season has been earning a solid starting position inside the top 10.
“I think we were quick all weekend since Free Practice on Friday, just messed it up a bit in Qualifying. Nothing came my way, I did some mistakes, didn't maximise it. So we knew the pace was there to go forward, but you can't do much starting in 18th.
“In the last two rounds, we had some really good pace, so that's the most positive thing we can take away and finally we’re going to be back in Europe. I really miss it. From now on going forward this season, I know pretty much every track I'm going to race at, so that's good. I really missed that feeling of racing in Europe, close to home.”
With Imola on the horizon following a quick stop in Barcelona for mid-season testing, Hadjar is optimistic that the team will begin to score strong points finishes more regularly. Last season, Hitech secured pole position with Jüri Vips, a source of positivity for Hadjar and his team.
Hadjar himself was also strong around the famed Italian circuit, scoring two top five results in 2022 in Formula 3, including P3 in the Feature Race.
“Last year, I was really quick around Imola in F3. I really like the track. The team was on pole last year in F2, so I’m looking forward to it.”
More critically though, the return to the European pillars of season offers a chance for Hadjar to hit the ground running more quickly on a race weekend. In the Frenchman’s view, the opening quartet of races offered a fun challenge around some new tracks, but familiarity will breed better results, stemming from greater consistency from the outset.
“I don’t think it’s so much as unlocking more pace, I would not say. I think it’s probably more consistency. Getting into the rhythm quickly as I know the tracks will be easier, so I think that’s going to be a good thing for us going forward.”