Driving for the reigning champions brings a certain type of pressure, so naturally Dennis Hauger was pleased to start the season at the top of the timesheets, even if it was only Free Practice.

The Norwegian driver was making his first competitive appearance for PREMA Racing since making the off-season switch from Hitech Grand Prix and impressed on the outing, beating second placed Victor Martins by two tenths of a second.

With just a few hours separating the session from Qualifying, Hauger says he and the team have plenty to work on if they are to follow up on the positive start.

“I felt pretty good, it was a different type of grip to the test because it was a bit warmer,” said Hauger. “I think that it will be different again in Qualifying with the added rubber going down on track after the F1 session.

“Overall, it felt pretty good, it was a positive start and I think I needed that. The car feels pretty good and now we have to go away and work on a few things before Qualifying. We have something to build on though.”

Hauger topped the opening session of the season
Hauger topped the opening session of the season

Although warmer than the pre-season tests in Barcelona two weeks ago, the track temperature was still below the levels often seen at race weekends in Spain.

With the heat expected to rise ahead of Qualifying, Hauger explained what he feels will make the difference.

He continued: “It was maybe a bit lower (than expected) this morning, but we are driving at a different time to last year and we know that Qualifying will be warmer, which will make things interesting.

“With the heat later on, it will be important to get good traffic management and to put everything together in the first push. I think that will be the lap. With strategy and everything to think about as well, it will be interesting to see.”