Louis Delétraz encountered mixed fortunes in the FIA Formula 2 Championship this weekend, scoring points in the Austrian Feature Race before brake failure cruelly robbed him of a near-certain podium in the Sprint Race.
The sixth round of the season was held at the 4.32km Spielberg circuit and Louis was immediately on the front-running pace as he set the fastest time during Friday’s practice.
A frantic qualifying netted P8 on the grid for Saturday’s 40-lap Feature Race which was held in blistering heat. With track temperature measuring 48°c, tyre management was crucial.
Louis adjusted to the conditions admirably as he brought his ADSS-supported car home in P7 – adding another six points to his championship haul.
“Practice went really well but I wasn’t 100% pleased with quali because we didn’t get the super-soft tyres to work as well as we would have liked,” Louis explained.
“But the Feature Race was okay for me. I had decent pace and I think our performance was strong. I was pleased it gave me points and a promising grid position for race two.”
Saturday’s result handed Louis a P2 starting slot on Sunday’s Sprint Race reversed grid and he confidently held position as the field thundered into Turn 1.
With good pace at his disposal, Louis leapt into the lead on lap 5 and held position for another couple of laps before he was passed by Sergio Sette Camara with DRS on lap 8. Louis managed to keep the chasing pack out of DRS range, though, as he set about converting his impressive speed into a first F2 victory.
However, with eight laps to go and in the middle of a charge that was reducing the gap to leader Sette Camara, Louis suffered brake failure at Turn 1 and was powerless to avoid a heavy collision with the barrier.
The 22-year-old was uninjured but his race – and hopes of a podium – were over.
“I was very confident for today and I think I had the pace to win the race,” Louis said. “I was chasing Sergio and keeping him within DRS range without using the tyres too much. It was pretty easy and clear I was faster.
“Unfortunately, the brakes completely failed into Turn 1 and I was sent into the barrier. I spun the car to try and lose some speed but it was a big hit.”
Louis’ Carlin team are investigating what caused him to lose his brake pedal at a crucial moment. For Louis, retirement was a bitter pill to swallow.
He said: “Again, this is another weekend when I should have been scoring a lot more points. My own performance is good and the car is strong, but we’re not being rewarded because of bad luck.
“This is the fourth event out of six where problems have ruined our weekend. I think we probably have around 60 points less than we should have. It’s a frustrating situation.”
The Swiss driver now has a two-week break before the F2 fight resumes at Silverstone in the UK (12-14 July).
“We know we are extremely quick and I’m not giving up,” Louis asserted. “It’s full focus on Silverstone where I pray we have a bit more luck.”