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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 December 2018

Abu Dhabi-backed racer Louis Deletraz hopes to use Haas test at Yas Marina as 'stepping stone' to Formula One

Louis Deletraz had also been at Yas Marina for the final round of the Formula Two championship

Louis Deletraz on track during the final leg of the Formula Two 2018 season in Abu Dhabi this weekend. louisdeletraz.com
Louis Deletraz on track during the final leg of the Formula Two 2018 season in Abu Dhabi this weekend. louisdeletraz.com

Louis Deletraz, the Abu Dhabi-backed Formula Two racer, is hoping that his participation in a test at Yas Marina Circuit with Formula One team Haas on Wednesday can help him achieve his dreams of following his father into the top echelons of motorsport.

Deletraz, 21, said that he hopes to use his F1 testing debut as a "stepping stone" to a permanent drive in motorsport's premier championship, following in the footsteps of three drivers – Lando Norris, George Russell and Alexander Albon – who will make the formula jump for the 2019 season.

"It's a big step," he said, speaking before he got in the Haas and completed 117 laps, setting a best time of 1 minute, 39.069 seconds to be ninth fastest of the 11 cars on track.

"So I want to learn as quick as possible and show that I'm able to drive Formula One to everyone who's watching.

"It is a stepping stone. If you see this year, there's three drivers from F2 who will step up to F1. There's a lot of politics, but if you're good you get the chance. For sure, it's motivating. I was driving F2 this weekend [at Yas Marina Circuit] and I see the F1 on track, like: 'On Wednesday I'm driving that.'"

Deletraz finished a creditable 10th in the FIA F2 Championship this season, racing for Czech team Charouz. In Abu Dhabi last weekend, he enjoyed a positive end to his campaign, finishing sixth in both races.

He is backed by Abu Dhabi trading-solutions company ADSS, which is also partnered with Haas, a link-up that led to this testing opportunity in the outgoing 2018 Haas, his first experience in a contemporary F1 car.

"I drove some old F1 cars, but the current 2018 cars, I didn't," he said. "Haas was really happy to give that opportunity of testing."

"I've been in Brazil to prepare with the team. Testing is about 700 kilometres a day – that's about two-and-a-half F1 races, so that's a lot. You have to be physically ready for that. And there's a lot of communication with the team.

"In the end, the best lap time is not going to be the aim – it's the feedback that goes back to the team that's important to show that the driver understands how it works.

"It's not just about me. But it means that they show trust in me because it's an important day. It's great to do this in Abu Dhabi."

His friendship with current Haas driver Romain Grosjean, who like Deletraz was born in Geneva, helped secure his testing chance, which also serves as confirmation of his FIA Super Licence, which is required to be held by any driver who competes in F1.

"Romain is a very good friend and also an example to me," he said. "To have him in the team, he's been there from the start and he knows everybody, so I'm sure he's said good things about me and he pushed it through."

Deletraz is confident that he has the pace to mix it in F1 if he gets the chance in the future.

"In F2, the level is really high – we are all fighting up front, and I'm sure I can do it in Formula One," he said. "I think once a team trusts you and wants to do well with you, you have big opportunities. So that's what I'm trying to create."

And Deletraz, whose father Jean-Denis briefly drove in F1 in the mid-1990s, is clear about the path he wants to take to achieve that aim.

"Next season, the objective is to do F2 with a commitment in Formula One. So for example, if you look at what Lando Norris did this year, he was in F2 and with McLaren doing a lot of testing. That's the goal: to be a test driver.

"F2 [next season] will be a different team and one of the top teams – which one is not signed yet, but we have some offers on the table. F1, maybe we will know over the winter, because discussions always take more time."