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Hauger got “confidence boost” in Melbourne despite feature race crash

by Ida Wood

Photo: Dutch Photo Agency

Dennis Hauger may have thrown away a potential Formula 2 win in Melbourne, but he left Australia with boosted confidence.

The MP Motorsport driver topped practice by 0.001 seconds, and took his first series pole by 0.344s in his 30th F2 qualifying session.

From 10th on the reversed grid he finished second in the sprint race, and led the feature race before pitting on lap nine. On his outlap he then crashed out on cold tyres.

“We should have won today, some valuable points wasted. Disappointing Sunday,” said Hauger afterwards. “But the pace is looking strong for us [at] MP. I’m proud of everyone in the team today and we keep pushing. Tough one, but this will only be a motivation for the rest of the season.”

Hauger has a win, a second place, a third, a pole and a fastest lap already in 2024, and is third in the standings. Since a pole was the only thing he had not previously achieved in F2, it meant a lot to get it done in Melbourne.

“Really happy to get a pole. It’s been too long. So that was a nice feeling to have that back,” said Hauger, whose last pole had come in a FIA Formula 3 round at Zandvoort in 2021.

“I was really happy to make the most of it and end up on top, which was a very nice feeling. So confidence boost. I think we’re doing everything right at the moment with the team and we’re working hard to make the steps throughout the year. So it’s nice to see the hard work being paid off.”

Why did it take so long for Hauger, in his third F2 season and second with MP, to top a qualifying session?

“Obviously having some experience helps along the way, but it’s not been easy for me in F2 overall, especially for qualifying. It’s been tough, and it’s been a real work with MP on the last one-and-a-half years now. I feel like with the new car, we’ve sort of kept the focus going and I feel like we’ve sort of found a balance that’s suiting me for F2.

“I think we had really good pace in Jeddah as well. I made a mistake and clipped a wall, so I had not really a straight steering on my quickest lap in qualifying. But I think we’ve really built up, and I think we’ve found something that works –  at least well for me in terms of qualifying pace. And I’m really happy with that, that we can sort of build on that together.

“It’s been a lot of hard work over the winter to try and find it, and I’m really pushing to try to be the best I can be.”

Hauger believes MP “found some things in Jeddah” that they were able to build on in Melbourne, but is unsure whether those learnings can be translated onto the 11 remaining tracks on the calendar and says “it’s too early to focus on any championship” challenge.