Louis Delétraz added to his FIA Formula 2 Championship points tally at Circuit Paul Ricard this weekend – but the Swiss driver was left contemplating what could have been after his car was struck down by an electrical problem that he and his team had no control over.
A podium finisher on the streets of Monaco last time out, ADSS-supported Louis was confident he could enjoy another strong weekend at the home of the French Grand Prix.
His challenge got off to a frantic start when his Carlin car received heavy contact from behind on the qualifying out lap. The extensive damage required a heroic repair in the pits before Louis could rejoin the session.
“I got hit from behind very hard,” Louis explained. “It wasn’t my fault and the other driver got a penalty. It was a big shame because the impact completely destroyed the car. The team did an amazing job to repair most of the damage but the floor was gone and that meant I lost a lot of downforce. I was very surprised I could qualify in P12.”
With a heavily-repaired car underneath him for Saturday’s Feature Race, Louis set about using his pace to challenge at the front. He immediately climbed the order and looked odds-on for a strong point-scoring finish. However, his race ended abruptly just after mid distance when his car suffered a serious misfire. The problem was traced to the electronic master switch box that is a controlled component supplied to teams by championship organisers.
Louis was justifiably frustrated that his promising race was ended early. He said: “This was the third time we’ve had this problem during the season and it’s completely out of our control. We were told to fit a new-spec box this weekend but the same problem happened again. It makes me angry.”
Feature Race retirement meant Louis started from P14 on Sunday’s Sprint Race grid. Showing fantastic pace, the 22-year-old proved to be one of the stars of the race as he carved his way through the field and set a couple of fastest race laps to boot.
His neat pass around Feature Race winner and championship leader Nyck de Vries earned Louis a P7 finishing spot and two championship points. However, it was small consolation during a weekend that promised much more.
“I think it’s fair to say the electronic issue ruined the weekend; we should have scored 20 points if not more,” he said. “It’s obviously good to know we have amazing pace but a problem that’s out of mine and the team’s control makes the situation bad. I hope we’ll have better fortunes in Austria.”
Louis and his Carlin team will make an immediate return to F2 action at Spielberg in Austria next weekend (28-30 June).