Despite retiring from strong positions in both the FIA Formula Two Championship races in Austria this weekend (29 June – 1 July), Louis Delétraz has taken comfort from the fact that he once again showed he is consistently able to fight for podiums.
The 21-year-old arrived at the Spielberg circuit in buoyant mood after battling his way to a second podium of the season in France a week earlier. As the form man in the official Formula One feeder series, he was keen to add to his points haul on the 4.32km track.
The weekend started brightly for the ADS Securities-supported driver as he set the seventh fastest time during Friday’s qualifying session. That placed him P7 on the grid for Saturday’s Feature Race.
When the 40-lap battle got underway, Louis was immediately on the move as he leapt up to P5 with pair of impressive overtakes. As a driver on the prime tyre strategy, Louis emerged from the pits in P8.
But with three drivers ahead on the alternate strategy and Louis’ efforts to look after his tyres set to pay dividends in the latter stages of the race, the Swiss driver knew he was in a strong position and expected to be able to fight for the podium positions as the race wore on.
Sadly, Louis didn’t get the chance to make his strategy and race management count. An engine problem that had first reared itself on lap 8 went terminal on lap 32 and he was forced to retire in the pit lane.
“It was disappointing to stop with an engine issue because I had saved my tyres for the last few laps and they were in mega condition. I think I could have had an easy P2 or maybe more at the finish,” he said. “The engine temperature was showing quite high from lap 8 so I had to manage the situation. We were definitely unlucky.”
Starting from P16 on the grid for Sunday’s Sprint Race, Louis hoped to take his repaired car into the point-scoring positions.
Once again, he started brightly and moved up to P14. With a train of cars ahead closely matched with the benefit of DRS, making progress was tough. But that didn’t stop Louis pushing hard to try and win some points.
Sadly, with six laps to run, Louis was pushed wide at Turn Four as he battled for position with Gelael. With the rear of his car on the kerb and gravel, Louis was pitched sideways and was powerless to avoid contact with his rival’s machine. Gelael was later penalised for causing the incident.
The impact damaged the front wing and broke the tow on Louis’ car. His challenge was over and he retired three laps from the chequered flag.
“Today’s result is tough to take. I was one of the few cars to make any progress through the field and my tyre degradation was looking great for the rest of the race,” Louis explained. “Getting crashed out was not the ending I wanted.”
Although he missed out on the opportunity to add to his impressive recent points-scoring tally, Louis is determined to take the positives from Austria – particularly with the next round of the series at Silverstone in Great Britain less than a week away (6-8 July).
He said: “In the end, we were one of the quickest during the whole weekend. Although we didn’t get the results we deserved, it’s definitely a boost to know that we have the pace to constantly fight for podiums. I want to make that count at Silverstone.”