CMC – Teenaged Barbadian driver Zane Maloney produced a superb comeback to finish third in Sunday’s Formula Two opener, as Frenchman Théo Pourchaire converted his pole into victory at the Bahrain International Circuit.
The 19-year-old Maloney was forced to start from 18th on the grid following weekend qualifying but scythed through the field to fight his way onto the podium, behind second-placed Swiss Ralph Boschung.
Maloney finished in one hour, 01.42 minutes, nearly 12 seconds adrift of Boschung, who was 20 seconds behind the 19-year-old Pourchaire.
“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 the podium is an amazing result.
“The team and the car were unbelievable. I was really able to push the whole race without any deg (tire degradation). It was an amazing way to start the season.
“Of course, the only thing maybe I could have done a bit better was avoiding the chaos at the beginning, which would have put us further up.”
Maloney clashed with Brazilian teammate Enzo Fittapaldi in a thrilling duel on lap 22, resulting in him taking over the eighth spot heading into Turn Six. Two laps later, Maloney also overtook Australian Jack Doohan and then set off in pursuit of Arthur Leclerc – the younger brother of F1 star Charles Leclerc – eventually clinching the sixth spot.
Brimming with confidence, Maloney dispensed with 21-year-old Japanese Ayumu Iwasa on lap 26 before brushing aside 17-year-old Brit Oliver Bearman on the next lap, to assume fourth place in the 32-lap contest.
Indian Kush Maini proved to be Maloney’s last conquest, the rookie taking over third place to make a great start to life in his first full season of F2.
“It’s a big step. It was very difficult this weekend,” Maloney said of the transition from F3.
In testing, I really struggled. I seem to find a lot more pace coming into this weekend but a silly mistake in qualifying put us on the back foot.
“I’m confident going into the next rounds, but for sure 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 race is in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on March 19.