Exclusive: Dennis Hauger on being a Red Bull Junior: ‘Does not give more or less pressure’

2021 FIA Formula 3 Champion Dennis Hauger hasn’t had the start he would have wanted to his rookie Formula 2 season with Prema. With just one points finish from four races, his introduction to the series has been tough. F1 Feeder Series exclusively caught up with the 19-year-old Norwegian after the second round in Jeddah to discuss the rest of the 2022 campaign. 

By Tyler Foster

“Well not so far, I must say”, Hauger said when asked about whether his expectations had so far been met over the first two rounds. “There have been some unfortunate situations that have made it difficult at the start of the season.” 

Hauger denied that anything had changed for him within Prema since his jump from F3 to F2, saying, “not really, mostly the same great people in the team and the basic procedures are the same.”

Qualifying struggles

After being rather dominant at points throughout his 2021 FIA F3 season, which saw him being crowned as champion, this form has not translated to much success since graduating to Formula 2. Despite remaining with the Prema team that he managed three poles with in F3 last year, he has struggled in qualifying so far: finishing fifteenth and tenth.

“In Bahrain I made a little but costly driving error in the last corner of my fastest lap and in Jeddah I got one push lap in Free Practice and only 2 in qualifying. Also, on my last and fastest lap in qualifying in Jeddah, the red flag came out just as I was finishing the lap.”

Hauger doesn’t believe that either of his performances in qualifying this year have been a true representation of his pace at this level. There will certainly be a focus on him to finally perform in qualifying in Round 3 at Imola this weekend.

Dennis Hauger (Prema) during the Formula 2 Jeddah round | Credit: Red Bull Content Pool

Red Bull pressure?

The Norwegian youngster is one of five drivers on the F2 grid this year to be part of the Red Bull Junior Team. It is no secret that being a member of Red Bull’s junior programme can act as both a blessing and curse. With all four other Red Bull juniors within F2 currently outperforming Hauger in the standings, we asked him whether this added any extra pressure upon him to perform.

“No, I know that things did not go my way in the first 2 rounds, I lost one decent result and one very good result due to factors outside my control. I know I still have to work on several small driving techniques but am confident that with a few more races I will be fully up to speed.”

I know I still have to work on several small driving techniques but am confident that with a few more races I will be fully up to speed

Dennis Hauger

“Being part of Red Bull does not give more or less pressure. Some kind of pressure will, like in any other sport, always be there because you first of all know that you need to perform to be part of Red Bull or not.”

Jeddah disappointment

Despite Hauger having a poor start on paper, his current position of twelfth in the standings does not tell the absolute truth as to his performances. If not for a controversial Race Director decision in the Sprint Race in Jeddah that saw him penalised, it would have been likely that Hauger would have experienced his first victory in F2.

We asked Hauger whether losing a possible rookie victory in F2 was the most frustrating experience in his motorsport career.

In motorsports you will always have quite a few frustrating experiences during a season and I have had a few from my early days in karting up to now

Dennis Hauger

“In motorsports you will always have quite a few frustrating experiences during a season and I have had a few from my early days in karting up to now. But for sure what happened in the Sprint Race in Jeddah is probably the worst so far! For sure I always try to turn disappointments into positive energy.”

Return to Imola

The Formula 2 calendar makes an inaugural visit to Imola for Round 3. While for many in the paddock, it will be the first time visiting the historic circuit, Hauger will be returning after having experienced success at Imola in both Italian F4 and FREC. The Norwegian is certainly “looking forward to racing there again.”

The focus for Hauger this weekend will certainly be on qualifying and trying to set himself up for the races as strongly as possible. He is looking to improve and, “get the maximum out of the option tyres in qualifying.”

Formula 2 2022
Dennis Hauger (Prema) during the Jeddah Formula 2 round | Credit: Red Bull Content Pool

Lessons to learn

With eleven rounds still to go, there is still every chance that Hauger turns his fortunes around and begins a title charge, however the Norwegian understands that the jump from F3 to F2 requires a lot of learning and is not straight forward. 

Hauger remains excited at the prospect of racing at Monaco, for Round 5 at the end of May. In his own words, he described it as a “classic”, while going on to say that he has “never raced on a proper street circuit.”

Given limited track time in a season and especially little driving overall before the season it is not easy to maximise your driving immediately

Dennis Hauger

While Prema as a whole haven’t started as strongly as most would have expected, they are still the same team who have achieved back-to-back Drivers’ and Teams’ Championship over the last two seasons. It seems only a matter of time until things click for Hauger and we start seeing the same form that led him to winning races in F3 last year.

“Every moment is important in a season, I work as I said earlier very much with what is right in front of me and to make the most out of every single corner and lap. Of course, given limited track time in a season and especially little driving overall before the season it is not easy to maximise your driving immediately. 

“The season also started with two circuits where I had never raced before with a quite different car from F3. We will see in 6 months where I stand and what will happen next year.”

Formula 2 returns this weekend and will make its debut at Imola, alongside the Formula 1 and Formula 3 action.

Header photo credit: Red Bull Content Pool

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