Dennis Hauger admitted that maintaining his position in the queue in qualifying may have cost him a chance at pole position for the FIA Formula 2 Championship’s Zandvoort round.
The MP Motorsport driver qualified a season-best second on Friday in a session affected by three red flags, which effectively froze the final classification to the order after the first runs.
Only Zane Maloney of Rodin Carlin, who headed the queue of cars on track, was able to improve his lap time in the second half of qualifying, with the red flag coming out seconds before Hauger could finish his flying lap.
“I was trying to stay where I was in the pit lane. Overall, I think we just had one team ahead of us [Rodin Carlin],” Hauger told InsideF2 in the post-Qualifying press conference.
“Some guys were pushing quite a lot on the out lap, but I just tried to stay quite calm, to be honest, in terms of the amount of traffic we could get on the end of our push lap if it was a traffic jam in the last sector.
“I was trying to play it a bit smart. If I would have pushed a bit more in the out lap, it could have been maybe a lap that I could have finished to improve one more step.
“But I mean other than that, no one really got to finish their lap in the end on that second run, which was a shame.
“You never know the outcome of it. I think we had the pace to be there, but in the end, it is how it is.”
That incomplete lap Hauger referenced was a 1:21.170, which would have put him on pole position by four-hundredths over Hitech’s Jak Crawford.
The red flag for Juan Manuel Correa’s spin in Turn 10, however, came out a few seconds before the Norwegian driver crossed the line, meaning that the time was invalid.
With 3:49 on the clock at the restart, each driver still had enough time for one more flying lap, but Clément Novalak’s accident exiting Turn 3 halted the session for the last time with 50 seconds remaining, and no driver got to complete their final laps either.
“It just made me pi***d, to be honest,” Hauger said about the loss of his potential pole lap. “Even on the last push, I think I was two tenths or so up before Turn 7 [when the final red flag came out], so generally I felt I had good pace every time I went out.
“But it’s really hard getting the tyres ready, getting everything heated up on an out lap, and then straight to push on this track especially. It was not easy, but it is how it is,” he continued.
“P2 is not the worst starting point going into Sunday. I would have loved to be on pole, but for Sunday, that’s where the points are and that’s where the trophies will be, so [I’ve] just got to think ahead now and focus on that.”
On Sunday, Hauger will line up alongside first-time Feature Race pole sitter Crawford, who also took his joint-best F3 qualifying result at Zandvoort last year.
“I just love to send it. It’s a track that rewards that. Today I was nailing it in sector 1. That’s what made the difference,” Crawford said when asked why Zandvoort seemed to suit him.
“Mainly in Turn 3 … I was able to use the banking really well. I was able to be really precise, and that’s what it takes around this lap on this track. I just tend to love this track.”
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