Louis Delétraz made a successful Formula One testing debut in Abu Dhabi yesterday, completing 117 laps of the Yas Marina Circuit with Haas F1 Team.
The US-based team recruited the 21-year-old to drive its VF-18 chassis during the final day of an official tyre test which followed the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Louis' first F1 experience was supported by Abu Dhabi-based ADSS Group. The financial services company has been one of the 21-year-old's longest-standing backers during his successful motorsport career.
His test itinerary at Yas Marina included 51 laps of comparison running between Pirelli's 2018 and 2019 ultrasoft compounds in the morning, before completing some short runs on hypersoft rubber during the early afternoon.
He ended with a programme of race runs on the same used hypersoft sets. This accounted for 66 additional laps. His best lap time of 1:39.069 was good enough for ninth fastest at the end of the day.
"It was an absolutely amazing day," the Swiss driver said. "It was fantastic from lap one to 117. I didn't regret anything I did and I felt hugely lucky to have been given such an extensive run programme that allowed me to use 16 sets of tyres."
"I was only out of the car for an hour during the day and that meant I completed a lot of kilometres. The biggest thing to get used to was braking. The Haas car was simply amazing arriving at corners and the grip was just unbelievable. "I felt I adjusted to the transition from F2 to F1 machinery during the early laps and everything was fine. I was happy with my pace."
As well as driving the VF-18, Louis worked closely with the Haas F1 Team engineers to analyse data and give accurate and valuable feedback across various track conditions and tyre compounds.
"The sole aim was to gather excellent data and knowledge for the team. The lap times weren't the primary focus," he said. "For me, it was interesting to try two tyre compounds that I've never driven on before and to see how they performed and degraded. I think the team were happy with the information I gathered." The data harvested during the test will be used to inform Haas F1 Team's tyre compound selections for the first four F1 races in 2019.
Haas F1 Team team principal Guenther Steiner said: “We had a productive day of testing in Abu Dhabi with Louis in the car. The feedback from the team was positive. Louis had a solid run and logged plenty of miles, which was great to see.
"We’re happy to have given him the opportunity to showcase his abilities behind the wheel of an F1 car for the first time. We look forward to watching his progress in the future.”
For Louis, his maiden F1 testing experience in Abu Dhabi has served to underline his commitment to working as hard as possible so he can earn a place on the F1 grids of the future.
He said: "This whole experience was a dream come true and has made me even more motivated to join F1.
"I want to say a huge thank you to ADSS for supporting me with this opportunity and it was particularly great that some of the people from the company could attend today's test and share the experience.
"My thanks must also go to Haas F1 Team for trusting and believing in me. It was a perfect day in my career."