Home Featured Star F2 rookie Paul Aron talks lessons learned in FE ahead of race debut

Star F2 rookie Paul Aron talks lessons learned in FE ahead of race debut

by Alejandro Alonso Lopez

Photo: Simon Galloway

Paul Aron got a taste of FE’s Gen3 car in practice for last month’s Misano E-Prix, and will now race it at this weekend’s Berlin E-Prix. How important is this opportunity to a driver who is currently F2’s top rookie?

Three rounds into the Formula 2 season, the standout rookie so far is Hitech GP’s Paul Aron. He sits second in the standings with three podiums and 47 points, 21 more than any other championship newcomer. And although his status as a Mercedes-AMG Formula 1 junior ended as he stepped up to F2, career momentum hasn’t been lost and Aron will start his profesional racing career at the top level of single-seaters this weekend with Envision Racing in Formula E’s double-header Berlin E-Prix.

The 20-year-old Estonian spoke to Formula Scout at F2’s recent in-season test about the “great opportunity” he has landed with Envision and how it has already helped him to become a better driver.

“I need to thank Ralf and Envision,” he started. “Ralf is my brother and also my manager. I think he’s the one who has put the deal together. And obviously Envision has given me the opportunity to race for them. So I need to thank both of them for this opportunity.

“Every difficult situation is an opportunity for someone. And luckily, this time I was the one benefiting from it.”

Envision usually fields Sebastien Buemi and Robin Frijns [pictured below with Aron], and both are free for the Berlin E-Prix on May 12. But as they are racing in the World Endurance Championship’s Spa-Francorchamps Six Hours on May 11, and therefore missing that day’s race in Berlin, FIA regulations do not allow them to jump back into their FE cars the next day.

Aron and Joel Eriksson were chosen a month ago as their replacements for the weekend, and since the decision was made before the Misano E-Prix it meant Envision could also prepare Aron by running him in the rookie-only practice session there. He replaced Jack Aitken, who had previously been announced for the session, and clocked 15 laps but was 2.121 seconds off the pace since he didn’t run at full power.

Photo: Formula E

His laptimes didn’t matter because, as he explained, the aim was to prepare Envision’s car as best as possible for the race weekend and therefore build his understanding of it ready for Berlin.

“There was no pressure at all for that 30-minute session because the goal of it was to get the first contact together with the team and the first feeling of the car. Our goal wasn’t to go and get the quickest laptime. What we focused on was getting through as many things as possible,” Aron said.

“FE is a really complex car systems-wise, and it’s not something I’m used to. So during that run I was talking to my engineer a lot. We changed a lot of things in the car, and rather than just going for the optimal settings, I made sure to kind of go through everything to get the first idea. And even though it was only 30 minutes, I think it was a really important session because now I know what to expect and I can make a step forward when I go to Berlin.

“And all these sessions between that time in Misano and the race weekend in Berlin when I go to the simulator, I have some real life experience to actually correlate to with the sim. I think that’s very important. So it was a very good opportunity and hopefully it will help me out a lot for Berlin.”

That Misano outing not only helped Aron become familiar with Envision and its Jaguar-powered car, but also exposed him to a completely different racing environment compared to junior single-seaters. There are similarities in preparation though.

“You spend a lot of time in the simulator, and there’s a lot of time going into preparation just because of the little track time you have. In FE there is a bit more track time. They have two free practice sessions. But it’s still very little and the tracks are difficult there. So in that sense, the preparation is similar. You spend a lot more time discussing systems and how to optimise the car rather than just driving, which is what you do more in F2.

“I think there’s a lot of benefit for me having this opportunity with FE. Not really regarding driving the car because I think the car is really different and the way you drive it is a completely different world from F2.

Photo: Hitech GP

“But FE is a really, really professional championship. The teams are really professional, the teams are very big. And it’s a very good experience to work in that environment where there’s a lot of engineers and there’s a lot more people you need to work with rather than the small group of people you have in F2 and in other junior single-seaters.

“On top of that, FE is cognitively, I think, the most difficult championship you can do. There is just so much you need to think of. There’s so many decisions you need to do on the go and there’s so much you need to play with on the systems of the car. That is a lot to take in. And I think once you get used to that, going to any other environment will feel a lot easier. So even now, coming back to F2 [for] testing from that FE world, mentally I felt much more at ease just because there is a lot less going on here. And I’ve gotten used to an environment which is a lot more loud and difficult.”

Aron says “we looked for this opportunity for a reason” when asked if he would be interested in his future being in FE.

“I think FE is a very competitive and very good championship and a good career path for any driver. But in the same token, the fact that we are doing this race now doesn’t mean that we are committing to a FE drive next year.”

Aron made clear his love for motorsport and his aim to become a professional racing driver,. Therefore, he is not closing any doors. Other championships like IndyCar hold appeal as well as F1 and FE, but most importantly he must keep performing in F2 to make a full-time step to single-seaters’ top tier possible.

“It’s a great opportunity to do the Berlin race with FE. But again, the main focus is F2 and doing the best during this year,” he emphasised. “What follows that, time will tell. And in the end, I mean, every driver in this championship still has their hopes on F1 and in a way that’s also my hope. But I need to be realistic. F1 is a very difficult world, and normally just results aren’t enough to get into that kind of championship. So I need to make sure that I have other options. And I think FE is one of the best in terms of alternatives to F1.”