Zane Maloney is quickly racking up Formula 2 mileage and is maximising every opportunity. The Bajan driver finished fifth on Day 2 of the post-season test at Yas Marina and feels he’s getting to grips with the car more and more with every lap.
After his efforts on a busy second day, he says driving with Carlin, the team which took the Sprint Race victory in Abu Dhabi and third on the podium in the Feature event, has been intense but hugely valuable so far.
“It's been good fun so far. We did 88 laps today, which is quite a lot. We did everything that we wanted to get done. Everyone's going on new tyres at different times so you can't really look into testing too much and know exactly where you are. But I feel great with the team. It's great to get the opportunity to do these three days.”
While the test days provide much more time in the car for drivers, Maloney says that the pressures of a race weekend are when he can feel things out and learn the most.
Having to do that with a new car at his disposal admittedly made for a difficult maiden F2 appearance. But, with the three-day test now adding to his experience, Maloney says he is feeling more and more at home with the car as things click into place.
“These days feel quite different to what I experienced on the race weekend. I'm really looking forward to the last day tomorrow, hopefully putting things together a bit more. But I'm getting more and more confident in the car for sure. This afternoon was the best I've ever been in the F2 car so hopefully that's a positive. I think we're looking quite good.
“I think in terms of me getting to know the car, I quite like going from Practice straight into Qualifying, but only when I know the car. So in F3 that was really good when I got to grips with the car. I almost prefer it that way. So hopefully we just need to get grips with this car, and I think once something clicks, which it’s starting to, then to be honest, I liked the pressure and I liked having to perform on that Quali lap.”
The 19-year-old put together a stellar rookie campaign in F3 with Trident. He captured three consecutive Feature Race wins to close the year and kept his nose clean during the Yas Marina finale driving for the team’s F2 operation.
Now, working with Carlin, the Barbadian driver is reuniting with familiar faces from his British F4 days. Having had plenty of time in the cockpit of an F2 car, Maloney says that the differences with those and the F3 cars are starting to shrink.
“When I first got in the car, I thought there were big differences with pretty much everything but, to be honest, now that I'm starting to drive more and more, there's less and less differences. Every time you get into a new car within a new environment, everything feels different and it changes but once you start to do more and more laps and more and more days, you get more confident. I feel that to be honest, it’s quite similar to the F3 car which is nice.
“My engineer in this test is Matt, I've known him for a very long time and he's come on holiday with me to Barbados before, so I knew him very well which is cool. To get straight into things at a new team, but with people that you know from four years ago, it's been really good.”
Teams will have one final day of track running to cap off the 2022 season and while there is always a caveat next to testing times, Maloney is expecting everyone to push even more. For him, getting to maximise the car as much as possible for what might be the final time is a crucial opportunity for him. After achieving P5 on Day 2, pushing the F2 car even more is a prospect he is eager to make the most of.
“Tomorrow, I think we’ll start to push more on the performance running in terms of outright pace. All the teams will try to maximise what they have for the test because we won't have another test until Bahrain, which will be the next time we get to drive his car. So we need to get the most out of the car tomorrow. I'm sure that everyone's still running conservative. We don't know how much fuel and the tyres so we'll see tomorrow.”