Zane Maloney has said he didn’t realise he was on course to take his maiden FIA Formula 3 pole at Imola, as he wasn’t overly happy with his fastest lap.
The Trident driver came out on top of a last-minute dash in the delayed qualifying session, which was affected by rain, to secure his first pole in the championship ahead of team-mate Roman Stanek.
Speaking on Thursday to selected media including Formula Scout, Maloney had mentioned the work he had done over the winter to improve his qualifying performance – an area where he struggled in Formula Regional Europe last year.
“Of course, [pole] means a lot,” Maloney said after qualifying. “In Bahrain, we were able to be close to the front end which was good.
“And we’ve done a lot of work in the two tests in Bahrain and Jerez, lots of stuff, and yeah, it paid off. Lots of sim, lots of karting and just going through everything with Giacomo [Ricci, Trident team boss] and the team. It paid off and I’m really happy to get the pole.”
But he then caught up with Formula Scout in the Imola paddock and said that he wasn’t overly happy with his lap.
“Well it was quite a chaotic weekend so far,” he said. “We had one lap in [a very wet] practice as a team, so going into quali honestly, I didn’t know what to expect.
“But I knew the car was going to be good as it always is, I just needed to put it together and get the job done. To be honest, it wasn’t the best lap of my life. I was quite annoyed at myself until I found out I got pole, of course.
“I’m still annoyed a little bit at myself, made one or two errors during the lap, but in these conditions it’s just about getting the lap put together and we were able to do it. Ecstatic, the job’s not finished so we need to finish it tomorrow and on Sunday.”
Maloney will start 12th for Saturday’s sprint race on a circuit that contemporary F3 last raced on in 2016. He shared his thoughts on his chances from the midfield.
“Yeah, well, as we know it’s a very high difficulty track to overtake on, so I’m not in the best place possible starting.
“I don’t mind if it’s wet or dry, I just need to get a good start, focus on the race but I’m sure it’s going to be chaotic with safety car, virtual safety cars, maybe even red flags.
“But hopefully not, maybe we’ll have clean races with everyone and we can try to do the best job tomorrow starting P12 and the main race on Sunday… I hope it’s a boring race, let’s put it that way.”
Additional reporting by Alejandro Alonso Lopez