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Maini “cleared up” race pace doubts by finishing second in Jeddah

by Alejandro Alonso Lopez

Photo: Formula Motorsport Ltd

Kush Maini was satisfied with his pace turnaround and second place in Formula 2’s Jeddah feature race after a difficult sprint race, but admitted the winner was “in another league”.

Having started on pole, Virtuosi Racing driver Maini ended up finishing the 28-lap race 7.895 seconds behind Van Amersfoort Racing’s Enzo Fittipaldi. In the previous day’s sprint race a struggle for pace meant he did not improve upon his ninth place starting position until the disqualification of a rival promoted him to eighth and earned him a point.

Maini led the feature race early on and after the pitstops was still the leading driver to have started on the supersoft compound tyres and switched to the medium compound. Fittipaldi had been behind him but used his superior pace to drive past and build a gap. The safety car was then deployed, bringing the two back together, but Maini could not use that in his favour and instead had to fight drivers on the alternate strategy.

Through the first two rounds of the season, the Alpine Formula 1 junior has shown blistering pace in qualifying. He was fastest at Bahrain, but got disqualified due to a technical infringement, and was second 0.025s off the pace-setting Ollie Bearman in Jeddah then inherited pole when the Prema driver withdrew to make his F1 debut with Ferrari.

Conversely, Maini has not been as strong in the races, but he hopes he and his team are now on the right path.

“I think [it was a] positive race especially after yesterday where we really struggled,” he said to media after the feature race. “I’m really happy the team and I switched it around and today we were really competitive. Enzo was in another league today, so well done to him. But I think [I’m] happy with P2. We need to analyse a bit more on where we can try and catch Enzo, but good points.

“Quali-wise we know we’d be on the money. Car is great. And we had a few doubts in the races, but now that’s been cleared up. I feel we can be competitive all throughout and I’m looking forward to Melbourne.”

He followed on in reply to Formula Scout: “[Bahrain and Jeddah are] two very different tracks. Bahrain is a very abrasive surface and here it’s almost no degradation with the prime [medium compound], very grippy track as well. So it changes how the car feels.

“We’ve been on the money both weekends in quali fighting for pole, and that last race we seemed quick. So we’ve been happy with how we’ve performed these last two weekends, especially with two completely different tracks. I’m looking forward to Melbourne, which will be another slightly different surface.”