Switzerland’s Louis Delétraz continued his impressive form in the FIA Formula 2 Championship as he scored P2 and P6 finishes at Circuit Paul Ricard in France this weekend.
The 21-year-old, fresh from his inaugural category podium at last month’s Monaco Grand Prix event, was one of the fastest and most consistent drivers on the fast and flowing 5.8km track for the entire race weekend.
His second podium of the season in Sunday’s Sprint Race also ensured he continued his excellent point-scoring form in 2018. The ADS Securities-supported driver has now finished in the points during each of his last four races and scoring 44 points at Monaco and Le Castellet has accelerated him into P10 in the drivers’ championship standings.
Friday’s qualifying session provided a solid start to Louis’ French Grand Prix race weekend as he guided his Charouz Racing System car to P9 on the grid for Saturday’s opening Feature Race.
Brimming with determination, Louis made a fast start and fired his car into P4 on the first lap. As the rain then began to fall across the entire circuit, Louis had to master the constantly-changing grip levels with super-soft slick tyres on the damp track.
Just before mid-distance, a drop in tyre performance prompted him to switch to medium rubber during his mandatory pit stop and he returned to the track in P8.
He continued his strong pace as the race drew to its conclusion and was perfectly placed to move into P7 when a rival made a pit stop – a place that would become P6 after the race when podium finisher Roberto Merhi was disqualified.
“I had a really good start and passed many cars – I made up five places on the first lap,” Louis explained. “I like the ‘slick on damp’ conditions but unfortunately I dropped quite a lot of time with the tyres losing their performance and that affected my chances to go any higher. Sixth place was a good position – it’s wasn’t perfect – but we survived and got some good points.”
Starting from P3 on the reverse grid for Sunday’s Sprint Race, Louis once again made a stunning start as he slotted into P2 at Turn One. He then set about chasing down race leader Nicholas Latifi on the dry track.
Having closed up to his Canadian rival, he then used his DRS advantage to dive into the lead on lap 4.
With a clear track ahead of him, Louis pulled out a significant lead that took him out of the DRS range of those behind him. However, his hot pace earlier in the race compromised the performance of Louis’ Pirelli tyres as the laps counted down and that allowed Nyck De Vries to close the gap and take the lead at the Mistral Chicane.
But with a comfortable gap over Luca Ghiotto in P3, Louis was able to hold position for the remaining eight laps and secure his second P2 finish in as many events.
“I felt fast straight away in the Sprint Race and knew I could take the lead once DRS was activated. My car was good but Nyck was fast all weekend and he managed to get past under DRS as I was working to protect my tyres,” Louis said.
“But P2 is still a fantastic result and I’m thrilled to take back-to-back podiums. I’m the driver that’s scored the most points during the last two events and that’s a massive confidence boost. There are still some weaknesses that we need to improve but the feeling is good right now.”
Louis’ bid to add to his podium count in France was supported by a number of Swiss fans that travelled to Circuit Paul Ricard. Their positive presence was something that Louis definitely felt on track.
He added: “It was great to see the support of the Swiss people at the French Grand Prix and it was amazing to feel their passion and excitement for motorsport. I definitely felt they were behind my push this weekend!”
Louis returns to FIA Formula 2 Championship action next weekend (29 June – 1 July) at Austria’s Spielberg circuit when the sixth round of the 2018 series gets underway.