Home Formula 2 After rain in testing, F2 drivers hampered by winds in Bahrain qualifying

After rain in testing, F2 drivers hampered by winds in Bahrain qualifying

by Ida Wood

Photo: Red Bull Content Pool

Formula 2 lost track time to rain in pre-season testing at Bahrain, and on the opening day of the season at the circuit it was wind levels that proved disruptive.

The weather led to very little track action in the first third of the sole 45-minute practice session, topped by Campos Racing’s Isack Hadjar. In qualifying the pace was lowered by 3.4 seconds, with Hadjar third fastest behind Invicta Racing’s Kush Maini and Gabriel Bortoleto.

Before it was revealed Maini had been disqualified for a technical infringement, Formula Scout asked the top three qualifiers about their pace, and how their cars and track conditions had changed since testing a few weeks prior.

“It absolutely does reinforce what we did in testing, and the modifications we bring made sense and we could see today we’re fighting for pole,” said Hadjar. “So that was I would say comparable conditions [to testing]. But at the same time, the wind was blowing, so made it really difficult for some corners. But in the end, I think it’s quite relevant to compare testing and quali today. Even after Formula 1 drove [and laid down rubber]. Laptime-wise it was really similar as well.”

Bortoleto agreed, saying the balance with the new Dallara F2 2024 car “was very similar from what I had” in testing but that the “wind was crazy in free practice and qualifying as well, so changed it quite a bit” when trying to put a lap together.

“It’s a car that has naturally more downforce, so it’s more affected by the wind. So I’m getting this as well to change my driving and stuff like this when there is this amount of wind,” the debutant noted.

“We did a lot of running in the test, gathered a lot of data, and to be honest, it felt very similar,” his team-mate Maini added. “We had the confidence going into quali that if we put everything together, we’re going to be fighting for pole [regardless]. And to be on pole by two tenths, I mean if you told that to me before the session, and at this track, it’s tough to believe.”

Maini will start from the very back rather than the front. Provisionally on row nine of the grid for both races are Prema’s Andrea Kimi Antonelli and Ollie Bearman, who continued their testing struggles.

Bearman called it a “difficult” qualifying: “It’s tough because it didn’t feel that bad, we have some work to do for the rest of the weekend. We lacked a bit of confidence to lean on the car and it really shows in these qualifying sessions where you have to be right on the limit consistently. That explains the gap.”

Despite cooling expectations pre-event, Antonelli said the result was “not what we expected” in the windy session.

“We didn’t perform really well, especially with the second set of tyres as we didn’t expect such a change in grip. Not where we want to be but we are working hard to get there.”