Louis Delétraz gives his thoughts on 2016 and outlines his hopes for the future as he continues his quest to earn a place on the Formula One grid:
Q: You’ve had some time to reflect on the Barcelona races. What are your thoughts?
A: “Overall, I think this season has been pretty fantastic. It was my first year stepping up from Formula Renault 2.0 and it was a big move. But we were extremely strong over the year with two wins, nine podiums, three poles and 13 rookie wins. I was the only driver that put an experienced single-seater driver like Tom Dillmann under pressure for the whole season and I don’t think anyone expected a rookie to do that. Yes, we lost the championship in the second race at Barcelona and that was a big, big disappointment. But I think we can be generally happy with what we achieved.”
Q: What was the highlight of your 2016 season in Formula V8 3.5?
A: “Winning the first race of the season at Aragon was something special. We knew we were quick there – but nobody really expects you to win your first race in a new category as a rookie. We saw some weak points during the early testing which we fixed and that meant we came to the first race in a strong position. It was a perfect race for me and I won by 15 seconds.
“I would also say my Paul Ricard win was nice as well. It was a really good team effort; we had a great strategy and did a perfect pit stop. It was a nice feeling to win under those conditions.”
Q: Which of your skills do you feel improved the most during the 2016 season?
A: “I think I generally improved everywhere as a driver because I was fighting against high-level competitors in the Formula V8 category. It was the same for me in 2015; every year you learn more-and-more and you get stronger. My physical strength also got better this season. The car is physically demanding to drive quickly with each lap and that meant my training needed to be more intense so I could perform in the races.”
Q: Who or what was the biggest influence on you during 2016?
A: “Before and during the season one of the biggest influences was Renault F1. I spent all of the winter training with them at the factory, meeting the team and speaking with their engineers. It doesn’t really relate to driving but you can still learn from them and it’s important to see how professional F1 is. You have to be as professional as that if you want to reach that level of racing. Their support continued during the season and I’m very grateful to have that.
“I would also say Romain (Grosjean) was a big help this year. As my mentor, we spent quite a lot of time training together and I did speak to him when I was 40 points down in the race for the championship. He was a big help during that period and gave me some good advice. He went through a lot as a young driver and it was great to know that I can give a call to him and ask him some questions.”
Q: You clearly settled in well at Fortec. What are your thoughts on the team?
A: “When I moved into Formula V8 I was joining a bigger team with more people. But everyone was really friendly and the team is like family now. After two days, I felt like I was at home. I couldn’t have achieved what I did this year without the a strong team like Fortec behind me. They were a big part of the success we had in 2016 and I have made some great friends.”
Q: Your Formula V8 performances impressed a lot of people. This must be an exciting time in your career?
A: “Yes, I think it is. I came to Formula V8 knowing I was a rookie but I fought for the title. That was my goal and I did everything to make it happen. This season has given me a lot of confidence and I’m determined to continue my learning and be to be successful as my career moves forward.”
Q: You obviously want to build on this year’s momentum – what is the plan for 2017?
A: “Yes, it’s crucial that I carry the momentum forward. I’ve had two good seasons in 2015 and 2016 and I want to make 2017 memorable as well. The preparation is well underway for next season and we’re looking for the best possible deal. It’s a very exciting phase for me and I hope we can make an announcement shortly.”