Louis Deletraz homes in on goal of racing in Formula One
The Abu Dhabi-backed Formula 2 driver makes his debut with new team Carlin at the Bahrain Grand Prix, and he is hoping it will be a further leg up to his ultimate ambition
The 2019 Formula 2 Championship kicks off its third season on Saturday with the opening two races taking place in Bahrain.
This year all eyes are on Abu Dhabi-backed Louis Deletraz, who has joined team title holders Carlin from Charouz Racing System.
The Swiss driver takes the place vacated by George Russell, last year’s F2 champion, who has now graduated to racing for the Williams team in Formula One.
Deletraz is looking to further his ambition to follow in the current title holder’s footsteps and enter what many consider the highest strata of motor sport.
His task won’t be easy though – this year, he’ll be racing against the likes of Mick Schumacher, son of seven-time F1 world champion Michael, who has stealthily risen through the ranks of racing.
However, the ambitious 21-year-old, who spoke to The National on a visit to his Abu Dhabi-based sponsors, the financial services firm ADSS, said he was looking forward to the season ahead.
“2019 is very important to me,” he said. “I’m very excited for this season – the testing went very well and we’re expecting big things.”
Carlin are expected to be strong contenders again this season, so Deletraz has reason to have confidence.
“As a driver you always want to join the best team,” the driver said of his new employers. “And the best team want the best drivers, so we came very easily to a deal together. I’m more than pleased to join them, and they’re very pleased to have me with my experience.”
F2 is a recognised stepping stone to F1, and Deletraz says making this move is his ultimate goal.
“A 100 per cent it’s my main aim to be in F1,” the driver said. “F2 is the last step before it. I had a test last December with Haas, my first test in F1. I just need to aim for F1. That’s my dream.”
However, Deletraz is under no illusions about what he has to do right now.
“The main thing is to have a great F2 season,” he said. “I’m starting the season with the aim to win it.
“As a racing driver I think if you don’t start with that intention you’ve failed already. That’s the goal – to be up front and win-win.”
Jean-Denis Deletraz, Louis’ father, had his own brief F1 career, but went on to far greater success as a two-time class winner at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Even with this racing pedigree though, Carlin’s new driver does not find what he does for a living straightforward.
“There’s always pressure because there’s a lot of people behind you, supporting you, and there is my own pressure that I put on myself because I want to succeed,” he said.
“But I think pressure is sometimes good – it helps you just go for it.”
The F2 Bahrain Grand Prix feature race takes place on Saturday, with the sprint race on Sunday.
Updated: March 29, 2019 11:04 AM