After excelling in pre-season testing, Isack Hadjar proved he could put the laps together when it counted in the opening round of the season, winning the Sprint Race from fourth on the grid in Sakhir.
And after two days of in-season testing at Jerez, the Hitech Grand Prix racer was pleased to find a similar level of performance on a different circuit, saying that testing in Barcelona next week would give the team an indication of where they’ll stand for the remainder of the season.
“Hitech has always been competitive, since the first year of this new championship,” he said. “In Bahrain, testing felt really good, the race felt really good, and here in Jerez, we are on the pace.
“We need to wait for Barcelona to see if we are competitive on three different tracks, and then we will have a better idea of how the season will go.”
The field experienced an almost entirely wet day of running on Tuesday in Jerez, with rain falling for the vast majority of the two three-hour stints.
Despite a minor scrape with the wall during the morning, the Frenchman was pleased with his performances on a soggy Jerez circuit.
“It was my first time in the wet in this car,” he continued. “It felt quick on the morning in full wet, until I pushed the limits a bit and hit the wall, but it was nothing big.
“Overall, my first experience in wet conditions went well. We managed to put some really good short runs together and ended up with a good laptime on the board, so I am happy with how it has gone.”
Stepping up on the back of a race-winning season in Formula Regional European, the 17-year-old Red Bull junior appears to have adjusted seamlessly. Finishing third fastest in Jerez, Hadjar was the highest placed rookie over the two days and was once again left lauding his machinery.
“I really love this car,” he elated. “It is much more powerful and has a lot more downforce than what I was driving last season, and the tyres are more grippy. I don't know if it suits my driving style, I just enjoy driving this car - it is a lot of fun.
“I think we lacked a bit of pace in Qualifying. It is quite different to what I was used to last season, so that is something that I need to practice more and more, but that is what testing is for.
“Testing in Barcelona next week will be similar to Bahrain in the fact that it is a track that we will race on this season. We will work a bit more on the long runs and see how the degradation is. We can then adjust the setup to give us a good baseline for when we arrive there in Free Practice.”