Zane Maloney finished third in the Formula 2 feature race at Bahrain, but he almost did not finish at all due to a car issue.
The Rodin Carlin driver revealed to Formula Scout during the post-race press conference that his charge from 18th on the grid to a maiden podium finish in F2 was nearly undone by a yet-to-be diagnosed fault that led to his engine briefly turning off.
“Being in clear air makes a massive difference, and I got lucky in a way when Enzo [Fittipaldi, his team-mate] was ahead of me and he boxed, so I had to go a lap longer,” Maloney said as he explained how he managed his race.
“In the end they all undercut me, but that meant I had one lap fresher tyres and also clean air to really bring the tyres in as I wanted. What we see is if you stay too close to a car, you’re always going to struggle in the end. So I just tried to manage the tyres and similar to what Theo [Pourchaire, the race-winner] said, to be honest, I had a lot more pace at the end.”
Maloney overtook 11 drivers on lap one, but had dropped from seventh to ninth by the time the pitstop window began.
“As I came out on softs, I actually had a fault with the engine. The engine shut off and I thought the race was over. So it came back on and luckily we were able to continue.”
He expanded on what happened during that moment, saying: “I left the pits and into Turn 4, I broke and the whole engine shut off for a good two or three seconds. So I was quite nervous.”
Despite that problem, “the car was amazing, so that’s what allowed me to drive how I pleased” and Maloney went from 13th to third in his second stint, having pitted from sixth place.
His team-mate Enzo Fittipaldi suffered from an engine issue during free practice, which marked the first competitive session for which F2’s new fuel, a “55% sustainable” mix from Aramco, was in use.