Home Featured Maini loses F2 pole to technical breach, Bortoleto inherits top spot on debut

Maini loses F2 pole to technical breach, Bortoleto inherits top spot on debut

by Ida Wood

Photo: Formula Motorsport Ltd

Kush Maini has been disqualified from the results of Formula 2 qualifying at Bahrain after topping the session, with his Invicta Racing team-mate Gabriel Bortoleto inheriting pole.

The F2 stewards examined Maini’s car and found “the left undertray front external strake in the area defined in the technical delegate’s report was outside the thresholds outlined in articles 3.4.1 and 3.4.2 of the 2024 F2 technical regulations”. The disqualification means he will start both races this weekend from the pitlane.

Maini explained to the stewards that he had hit a kerb in qualifying and suspected he had sustained damage to the underside of his car from the impact, while Invicta argued that “the points at which the car is sat on the scrutineering platform were likely to have been damaged in the incident and, as such, the reason for the measurements being outside of the tolerances was not because of the undertray front external strake being below the minimum design height, but rather because of damage to the underbody that sets the reference plane”.

The FIA’s technical delegate pointed out that F2’s bodywork measurement procedure has tolerances that “are intended to cover discrepancies caused by such a scenario” like a kerb strike. Following that, the stewards determined that it was the team’s responsibility to run the car at a rideheight that minimised that damage risk.

There was a gap of 0.219 seconds between Invicta’s drivers at the top of in qualifying, and it would have been Alpine junior Maini’s maiden pole in F2. The final results of qualifying now have Bortoleto, who is making his championship debut this weekend, taking pole by 0.023s over Campos Racing’s Isack Hadjar.

Maini had said to media that everything felt great with his car during qualifying, praising the competitive package his team had provided him with. Bortoleto’s initial qualifying reaction was to being second fastest, rather than clinching pole on debut.

“I think it was very positive first quali for me in F2. Finishing P2, I think I couldn’t imagine this to be honest,” he said. “I’m happy that Kush was P1. Shows that the car is there, shows that we have the pace as a team. We have a lot of data to analyse, we have different driving styles, so this we can also compare and improve ourselves. Looking forward to the races.”

However the reigning FIA Formula 3 champion was unhappy with his adaptation to the new F2 car.

“I wish I’d done better on the adaptation, to be honest. Actually it was a little bit easier in F3 as pure speed and stuff. I think I’m still getting there. Especially with the soft tyres. I still need to do some steps. It’s normal. In [F3] we just have one compound per weekend, so it’s easier for us. In F2 it’s different. Here in Bahrain you go from having hard tyres, running 1m45s, and in quali we were doing 1m41s. So it’s a big jump, and I’m not used to it. But I’m getting there.”