Louis Delétraz made a strong point-scoring start to his 2019 FIA Formula 2 Championship campaign in Bahrain this weekend after registering a pair of P5 finishes.
The 21-year-old’s impressive results at the Sakhir International Circuit handed him a welcome 16 championship points and he now occupies P4 in the Drivers’ Championship standings heading to round two next month.
Louis carried him impressive pre-season testing form into Friday’s tense qualifying session in Bahrain, placing his ADSS-supported car on the front row of the grid for Saturday’s 32-lap Feature Race. It was just the start that the Swiss driver wanted.
“Fighting for pole was a fantastic feeling and I think we showed great pace out of the box,” he explained. “It was also a bit of a relief because, even though testing was positive, you never really know how your pace will compare at the first race. I was really happy on Friday night.”
When the opening race of the weekend got underway in hot and sticky temperatures a day later, Louis capitalised on his grid position to take the early lead, setting a fastest lap of the race in the process.
Unfortunately, the customary tyre degradation proved to be greater than Louis expected and he was unable to hold on to his lead past the eighth lap.
He once again demonstrated his impressive F2 pace by setting another fastest lap after his mandatory pit stop and rose back up the order with a sequence of slick passing moves to claim P3 on soft rubber.
However, tyre performance became an issue for the second time in the race and Louis lost ground in the frenetic race for a podium. He completed the race in P5, scooping 10 points in the process.
He said: “We had some early degradation, much worse than we expected, and that meant we missed quite a lot of pace. Unfortunately, the four cars ahead didn’t have as much deg so P5 was the best I could do. It was a shame because we started with race-leading pace.”
Louis was once again in the thick of the action during Sunday’s shorter Sprint Race as he started from P4 on the grid.
However, contact from another driver on the opening lap forced Louis off the track as he battled for P2. He dropped to P8.
He showed yet another fastest lap performance during his recovery phase and he continued his confident march back up the leaderboard as the laps counted down.
He eventually crossed the finish line in P5 for the second time during the weekend, a result that earned another six championship points.
“We had some work to do after the Feature Race to improve the tyre deg situation and that worked. The team reacted well and I adapted my driving style too,” Louis explained.
“It was unfortunate that I got pushed off and lost time but I think I recovered well and scoring a pair of P5 finishes is a great way to start the championship.
“I’m pleased we were really fast in the all-important qualifying and I intend to carry on with that during the 22 races that are remaining. I’m feeling very positive for the season.”
Louis will return to the track for the second round of the F2 series at Baku in Azerbaijan on 26-28 April.