F2: Arjun Maini lets loose emotions after troubled Paul Ricard weekend
It was a difficult start to Trident’s Arjun Maini to Round 5 in the 2018 FIA Formula 2 Championship after power troubles hindered his runs both in practice and qualifying on Friday at Paul Ricard. The Indian finished only 18th in the practice while qualified 17th.
Maini revealed to me that he had an issue with a melting pipe which was initially fixed after practice but re-occurred in qualifying after which a final cure was done by F2 and Mecachrome before the feature race on Saturday.
The Haas driver lost one and a half second to the leaders with ART Grand Prix’s George Russell taking pole ahead of DAMS’ Alexander Albon and Carlin’s Lando Norris. Even Maini’s teammate Santino Ferrucci managed to out-qualify him to be 13th.
It was a hectic run for Maini in the wet-dry race. It started to rain just at the formation lap but everyone decided to still start on the slick tyres. Fortunately, he was not among the stallers as he made up two places to 15th off the line.
However, it was much too difficult until midway into the race. The Indian had battles with Campos' Roy Nissany while he hung on in the treacherous conditions. He decided to stop late which worked well as the rain faded out giving him track position.
He ran as high as fifth before his pit stop. He had come out in 11th but ART’s Jack Aitken was quick to clear him on Maini’s outlap and pull away handsomely. But the Indian then clawed back into Aitken’s lead and eventually passed him on the final lap to finish 11th, just outside the points.
At the front, Russell maintained his lead all-through to win the race from the returning Carlin’s Sergio Sette Camara who gained couple of places at the start due to Albon and Norris’ misfortunates. The Brazilian came close to Russell, but had to settle for second.
Meanwhile, MP Motorsport’s Roberto Merhi made the most of the conditions to move himself into third. But he was disqualified post-race due to tyre pressure infringement, promoting Campos’ Luca Ghiotto to third and Maini to 10th for the Indian to score the solitary point.
It was another messy race with multiple stallers on the grid, as pole-sitter Makino bogged down to hand DAMS' Nicholas Latifi the lead from Charouz Racing's Louis Deletraz and Prema's Nyck de Vries while Maini himself lost couple of places.
The Indian was already in a fight with Trident teammate Ferrucci who was joined by Nissany and Albon. As the race progressed all three managed to clear Maini with the Haas junior then battling for 11th with Nissany.
The Israeli cut the chicane to stay ahead and was soon under investigation. By that time, Nissany overtook Arden's Maximilian Gunther with Maini still running behind the two. The Indian then had to battle with the German in the last few laps.
But the two collided for which Gunther was penalised but dropped Maini behind Arden's Nirei Fukuzumi to finish 13th. At the front, de Vries cleared both Deletraz and Latifi to win his first F2 race of the 2018 season from Deletraz and Ghiotto.
However, a post-race radio call from Maini caught the whole motorsport world on high. The Indian went in hard on the series with the troubles he has been facing all season, especially in Paul Ricard where he was continuously losing power.
As alluded to earlier, the issue seems like wasn't fully resolved to what he had been facing in practice and qualifying. He earned a point in the feature race, but had little luck in the sprint race with all the cars around him.
The Haas junior had managed to eke out three fifth place finishes in combined feature and sprint races, but his season has been marred with reliability issues - which his teammate Ferrucci has endured as well.
Overall, the whole F2 grid has been on the receiving end with the brand new car from Mecachrome suffering numerous mechanical troubles on every race weekend so far. Several drivers have called for immediate changes.
This has affected the championship as Norris continues to lead with 104 points as Russell sits second on 91 and de Vries jumps to third with 75. Maini is 14th, tied on 23 points with Merhi who sits 13th as they head to Red Bull Ring next weekend for Round 6.
Full feature race report: formularapida.net/f2-russell-wins-frantic-mixed-weather-feature-race/
Sprint race report: formularapida.net/f2-de-vries-scores-first-win-of-2018-in-sprint-race/