Despite showing some strong race pace during his first visit to Russia’s Sochi Autodrom, Louis Delétraz was left frustrated to leave the penultimate round of the FIA Formula Two Championship empty handed this weekend.
A troubled qualifying session only returned a P14 grid slot for Saturday’s opening Feature Race, but Louis was determined to fight back when the race got underway.
A number of slick passes and particularly strong pace on Pirelli’s soft compound tyres allowed the 21-year-old to complete the race in P9 – inside the point-scoring positions.
However, he was dealt a cruel blow after the race when officials handed him 15 seconds worth of time penalties for track infringements. That pushed Louis down to P12 in the final classification.
“The first six laps were bad on the super soft tyres and we didn’t know why we had such huge degradation. After that we had a pretty good run with the softs and were fighting back,” he said. “My pit lane entry penalty was my mistake – I had no more tyres and a big snap of oversteer caused me to cross the line.”
Louis once again showed strong pace during Sunday’s Sprint Race as he climbed to P7 on the leaderboard. However as rain fell on the track at mid-distance, a team decision to keep him and Charouz Racing System team-mate Antonio Fuoco out on slicks while everyone else switched to wet tyres didn’t return the tactical advantage that Louis’ camp hoped for. He finished P13.
The Swiss driver said: “Again, my pace was good during the first part of the race and I could attack hard. Unfortunately, the decision to stay on slicks didn’t work. We tried but it was the wrong direction. It’s disappointing because I think we lost certain points.”
With eight weeks until the final F2 round of the season at Yas Marina in Abu Dhabi (23-25 November), Louis is determined to address his lack of speed on super-soft rubber so that he can end the 2018 season on a positive note.
“My race pace on the soft compound is fine, but qualifying and racing on the super-softs needs to improve. I lost maybe 10 or 15 seconds in the first race this weekend because of degradation. My focus is on getting that right for Abu Dhabi,” he said.