Louis Deletraz currently leads both the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 and Formula Renault 2.0 NEC championships with Josef Kaufmann Racing, and has ambitions to step up into its parent Formula Renault 3.5 Series in 2016.
The Swiss teenager recently made a one-off appearance in the 3.5 championship with Comtec Racing at the Red Bull Ring in Austria, and speaking to The Checkered Flag, Deletraz revealed the chance to race in a Formula Renault 3.5 Series event was too good to pass up. With Comtec looking to make their return to the series, it provided the platform necessary to make it happen.
“The Red Bull Ring and Monaco events were the only events where WSR 3.5 & Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 were not together on the same meeting,” started Deletraz. “I was in Silverstone for NEC during Monaco, but I was free for the Red Bull Ring.
“Even if I’m 100% focused on the Formula Renault NEC & Eurocup titles, we thought that doing a FR3.5 event could be a great opportunity to learn for my future. Comtec Racing had two cars ready to go and that’s how got in touch.”
Deletraz felt the move up from his usual Formula Renault 2.0 Series machine to its big sister was positive, but admitted the increased downforce levels and the carbon brakes were his biggest hurdles he faced.
“To be honest I felt good,” revealed Deletraz. “The first few laps are the hardest as you need to get use to 560bhp, the carbon brakes and the massive downforce. This car is a beast!
“The downforce is massive, the carbon brakes are much more aggressive and the power is something you need to get used to it. The main difference is in fast corners; in technical corners I got used to it really quick.”
Deletraz’s first venture onto the Red Bull Ring track was during practice on Friday, but his session was affected by an issue with his steering, but felt comfortable as he got up to speed quickly.
“In FP1 we had a problem with the steering column and my steering was not straight,” said Deletraz. “I did the maximum lap I could despite this but it was not the optimal way to learn.
“In FP2 the car was fixed and I could really start working on my performance. I got much closer to the front and only five-tenths to the top eight; it was a really positive session.”
Deletraz was able to test the car with new tyres for the first time during FP2, having been forced to use 2014 rubber in the opening practice session, and felt the car was transformed as a result.
“It was like a new car, I had so much more grip,” revealed Deletraz. “My first run on new tyres was not optimal as I improved even more on the second run when they were a bit more used. The difference was so big.”
In a change to the usual scheduling of a Formula Renault 3.5 Series event, both qualifying sessions were held on Saturday, with the races following on Sunday. Deletraz felt his first effort on Saturday morning was ‘not too bad’ despite qualifying at the back of the grid in twenty-first after braking issues.
“In Q1 I had some air stock in the brakes and I had problems to stop the car,” revealed Deletraz. “It meant I had to start last but despite the problem I was only 1.3 seconds off.
“Not too bad for a first one.”
The second session later in the day was affected by rain, and Deletraz felt a top ten start was possible had the team been more aware to leave the pits earlier, with a delay being costly as it allowed him only one quick lap compared to two or more for many of his rivals. Still he was relatively content with eighteenth.
“In Q2 a little rain started to fall on Spielberg but not enough for rain tyres, but it was damp on slicks,” said the Swiss driver. “It was a tricky one for a first one but I love those conditions and was between P6 and P8 most of the time.
“At one point rain became heavier and everyone stopped. Then the rain stopped but we did not realised how quick the track dried and went out too late. I had only one lap, which was not optimal as the car was still cold.
“I finished P18, but it didn’t reflect our performance at all, but I knew top 10 was really possible.”
Deletraz finished the opening race on Sunday morning in fifteenth, but was using the race to learn about the car, and experienced the effects of the Drag Reduction System for the first time.
“[As for the race], it was a quiet good one, from P21 to P15,” said Deletraz. “I finished the race and learned as much as possible.
“The use of DRS was new but I could do some good overtakes and I stayed with the Top 10 pack during the whole race. My best lap time was less than a second of P2.”
The Swiss driver’s second race was over at the end of the first lap after a clash with one of the Jagonya Ayam with Carlin drivers damaged his car, resulting in a trip to the pit lane.
“I was pushed out on the grass at T1 despite a good start, and I was then at the back of the field,” revealed Deletraz. “Then I tried to overtake a Carlin car and we had a little contact. He did not see me on the inside, but that’s racing.”
Deletraz was happy with his debut weekend in the series, feeling it will benefit his future ambitions, with the intention to step up to Formula Renault 3.5 in 2016.
“I’ve learned a lot, but I can’t tell everything it would be too long,” said Deletraz. “It was a good experience for my future, I now know how the meeting goes, how the tyres works, everything.”
Deletraz now returns to racing his usual Formula Renault 2.0 machines for the rest of the season, and is aiming for a double championship victory.
“I will keep working hard with my team,” insisted Deletraz. “The details will make the differences and I will do my best to achieve our goals in the best way!”