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F2: Maloney on his ‘amazing’ yet surprising start to his F2 season

Zane Maloney graduated from Formula 3 to Formula 2 for the 2023 season

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Zane Maloney, the boy from Barbados, impressed in his incredible drive in the Formula 2 Feature Race in Bahrain, moving up 15 places to bag a podium alongside race winner Théo Pourchaire and the Sprint Race winner, Ralph Boschung.

F2 Formula 2 Sprint Maloney Bahrain Carlin
Zane Maloney in the post-feature race press conference along with Ralph Boschung and Théo Pourchaire in Bahrain. (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli – Formula 1/Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images)

Zane Maloney debuted in Formula 3 last year with Trident. Throughout the 2022 F3 season, Maloney achieved two pole positions and three feature race wins. Whilst Victor Martins won the F3 Drivers’ Title, it was Maloney who came second, only five points behind the Frenchman.

Last year in 2022, Maloney did compete in Formula 2 for two races, but 2023 is his first full season in the championship. Now in his rookie season, Maloney has moved teams to Rodin Carlin and partners experienced F2 driver, Enzo Fittipaldi.

Both Maloney and Fittipaldi are a part of the Red Bull Driver Academy but it was the rookie F2 driver who excelled this weekend.

Maloney’s Weekend

In his Formula 3 season in 2022, Maloney had a strong qualifying performance. Out of the nine rounds, he qualified on the front row five times.

However, during his first qualifying session this Formula 2 season, Maloney unfortunately didn’t get the results he wanted.

Whilst his teammate put his car in P13, three shy of the top 10, Maloney only managed to set a lap time for P18. This meant in the Sprint Race yesterday, Maloney wasn’t affected by the reverse grid.

Campos Racing’s Ralph Boschung took P2 in today’s Feature Race after he excelled in the Sprint Race taking the victory. Despite Maloney not seeing the podium in the sprint, he did manage to move through the field and finish in P9.

After improving from Qualifying to the Sprint, it was time for the Feature Race. Maloney once again started in P18 and had a challenging yet rewarding race.

The Bajan driver battled with Fittipaldi throughout the race, resulting in him charging forward and catching up to those in front. After moving through the field, Maloney finished the race in third scoring 15 points, putting him third in the championship standings.

The surprise of the weekend

After the race, Maloney spoke to FormulaNerds and other media about his race. Speaking to Formula 2, Maloney said to be on the podium is “a bit crazy to be honest.”

He acknowledged the pace the team had in qualifying but admitted he “made a big mistake”, resulting in him starting on “the back foot”. However, coming into today’s race, Maloney said:

“Yesterday we had great pace, so when I went to bed last night I was hoping for a point or two but to come away with a podium is an amazing result of course and the team, the car was really unbelievable.

“I was able to push the whole race without any deg so, it was an amazing way to start the season. Of course, the only thing I could maybe have done a bit better was at the beginning, avoiding the chaos a bit better would have put us further up but well done to the two guys here and hopefully another good one in Saudi.”

Tyre management was key in this race as the Bahrain International Circuit can be quite abrasive. Speaking on this in the press conference, Maloney said he was “lucky in a way” as Fittipaldi was ahead of him and boxed, so he was forced “to go a lap longer.” However, whilst other drivers undercut him, Maloney then had “one lap fresher tyres and also clean air to really bring the tyres in.”

Not all plain-sailing for Maloney
Formula 2 F2 Bahrain Maloney Barbados Pourchaire Boschung
Zane Maloney of Rodin Carlin overtaking Arthur Leclerc of DAMS in the F2 Bahrain Feature Race. (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli – Formula 1/Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images)

But, after he had pitted, Maloney became a bit “nervous” as he had an issue with his engine. Maloney said when he came out of the pits on the soft-compound tyres, he “thought the race was over”. He told Formula 2:

“I left the pits and into turn four I broke and the whole engine shut off for a good two or three seconds so I was quite nervous.”

The pace and the challenge of F2

Maloney also told the media how he was “surprised” by the car today and his performance given Formula 2 is a “big step” up from Formula 3. The Rodin Carlin driver said:

“Yesterday we saw that we had a really quick car but I didn’t imagine it would be as quick as it was. Of course, I tried to manage the tyres at the beginning of the stint on options, and then I was able to push and get ahead of the others in front of me. The pace was amazing, so amazing job by the team to give me the car that they did.”

Maloney continued saying that despite a difficult testing, he “seemed to find a lot more pace coming into this weekend.” He noted his “silly mistake” in Friday’s qualifying, but expressed that he is “confident going into the next rounds.” Maloney did say:

“It’s another step up from F3, the drivers are more experienced, the drivers continue to gain experience and we’re going to have to try to go with them and learn as much as we can throughout the season.”

The next round of the Formula 2 Championship is in Saudi Arabia, a circuit Maloney has yet to race at. Being third in the standings and the pace of the Rodin Carlin car, Maloney has a good chance of getting some good points on the streets of Jeddah.

Will the boy from Barbados be on the podium again?

Headline Feature Image: GettyImages

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