Zane Maloney reckoned he “could have done a better job” to overtake winner Clement Novalak in Formula 2’s feature race at Zandvoort.
Rodin Carlin driver Maloney “could keep up quite easily” with Novalak in the first few laps after the second safety car period, but then the leader went out of reach.
“I knew that that was my only opportunity the first two or three laps, as soon as I followed him for longer than that, my tyres were screaming,” explained Maloney.
“So then I dropped back a little bit and I expected Clem to kind of drop at the end with how hard he was pushing, but he did a great job of just maintaining that gap.”
Maloney pitted on lap seven of 38, with Trident’s Novalak stopping three laps later and just before the safety car appeared.
“You are not allowed to pit under safety car here, so our understanding was get in as early as possible and hope on that outlap, there is a safety car and then we win the race,” said Maloney, who was up to third behind Jak Crawford and Dennis Hauger once the pitstops played out.
“We did it and of course, it still worked out well. We still were able to jump Dennis. It was very sketchy on the outlap, almost put it in the wall a few times like some did, so that was very difficult.”
Maloney ended the race under attack from Crawford, whom he had overtaken on the lap 17 safety car restart.
“All three of us were really close going into turn one and Jak went for a move on Clem. But I know it’s really difficult to brake on the inside here with the bumps, so I just tried to go on the outside and once I realised that the move was on, I committed to it,” he explained.
“It was kind of just go on the outside and see what plays out. I was ready to back out if I needed to, but he left me good room and I was able to get the move [done].”
Crawford finished 0.342 seconds behind fellow Red Bull junior Maloney, and said the race was “a bit of a bittersweet one” having finished third from pole.
“I feel like we did everything right,” he said. “On the first stint, we had an amazing pace. We nailed the warm-up, the start, everything. I was maintaining the gap, had a solid outlap. I was being aggressive and we had the same strategy as Zane, which was to cover off the safety car and that eventually is what hurt us,” he said in reference to being jumped by Novalak.
“That mistake battling on the restart, which is where Zane went by puts the nail in the coffin.”
Notwithstanding, Crawford considers the positives of what was “an amazing weekend pace-wise and obviously good points in the feature race”. He looks forward to next weekend at Monza, where “hopefully we can take the momentum with us”.