Louis Delétraz completed an impressive first season in the Formula V8 3.5 championship by finishing runner-up in the final points standings in Barcelona, Spain today.
Having already stormed to the rookie title with a string of fine performances inside the cockpit of his Fortec Motorsports car, Louis travelled to the final round of the season in Barcelona this weekend with a three-point lead in the overall championship.
Despite huge pressure, the 19-year-old drove a near-perfect race to finish second in Saturday’s opening race – his ninth podium of the season – but the battle for the overall championship title came down to the result of today’s final race on the 4.65km Circuit de Barcelona, Catalunya.
Louis started the day in impressive form as he took his third pole of 2016 in morning qualifying. But he wasn’t able to capitalise on that advantage when the start lights went out, thanks to an overheating clutch and some wheelspin off the grid. That meant the Swiss driver dropped to fourth as the field arrived at Turn One.
The reigning Formula Renault 2.0 NEC Champion fought hard to move up the order as the race unfolded, but a slower-than-expected pit stop and significant understeer restricted his progress as he tried to catch championship rival Tom Dillmann who enjoyed a trouble-free passage to the head of the field after the mandatory pit stop.
After 40 minutes of racing, the final race of the season proved to be frustrating finale for Louis and his fourth-place finish didn’t quite yield enough points to wrestle the title away from his more experienced French rival who went on to win the race.
Louis therefore ends the season as runner-up in the Formula V8 3.5 standings, having won two races, finished on the podium nine times and taken an amazing 13 rookie wins.
“The only result we couldn’t do anything about was Tom winning and it was incredible how everything went wrong for me in the race – the start, the pit stop and the understeer,” Louis explained. “We tried our absolute best and I don’t blame anybody. Tom had an amazing race and everything went in his favour.
“I did all I could this weekend. I caught and passed Tom in yesterday’s first race and then I put the car on pole for today. I was convinced there was a big chance to be champion but today was crazy and I don’t think anyone expected the race to turn out the way it did.”
Despite just missing out on the overall Formula V8 3.5 title, ADS Securities-supported Louis is happy with all he has achieved in 2016 and is defiant in the belief that his Formula V8 3.5 record surpassed all expectations in his rookie season.
The Renault Sport Academy driver said: “It’s hard to accept what happened today but we’ve had a fantastic season overall. I had a lot to learn at the start of the year, yet I dominated the rookie championship, was running at the front the whole time and fought for the title right to the end.
“Nobody was expecting me to fight so hard against a driver that is eight years older than me, has raced for two seasons in GP2 and has lots more experience in Formula V8. Thanks to the awesome guys at Fortec – we can be very proud of what we’ve done in 2016. It’s been an incredible experience and I’ve really enjoyed working with some amazing people.
“I’m also very grateful to Renault Sport F1 for their support this season. They’ve helped me to develop my skills in 2016 and I think that showed in my results on track.”
“For sure, it’s hugely disappointing to miss out on the overall championship today, especially after all we did during 17 other races, but this is an experience I’ll learn from. I’m determined about that.”