Petr Ptacek made a promising debut as an MP Motorsport driver this weekend, scoring points in both Formula Renault Eurocup races at Imola in Italy.
The 18-year-old switched to the Dutch squad just before the eighth round of the season got underway as a support series to F1’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix weekend.
Without the luxury of a pre-event collective test, Petr faced a steep learning curve as he hit the track for the first time with a new car and team on Saturday morning.
Qualifying 1 only returned a P14 grid slot for the first race later that afternoon as Petr made a small error on his flying lap and lost time at the Variante Alta chicane.
But the Czech driver made good progress during the
17-lap race to bring his MindMaze-supported car home in P10 and score his first point in MP Motorsport colours.
“Quali was my mistake and I lost probably 0.5s on my fast lap. It was frustrating but that can happen sometimes,” Petr admitted. “In the race, the pace was pretty good and it was great to make up four places and get in the points.”
Bright autumn sunshine greeted the field for Qualifying 2 on Sunday morning and Petr showed more progress as he secured P9 on the grid for the final race of the weekend, despite not being able to complete his final push lap after encountering traffic.
An early collision further up the field brought out the Safety Car as fast-starting Petr settled into P6. However, he faced fierce pressure from Grégoire Saucy who was on his #12 car’s gearbox as the race went green again.
The Swiss driver tried to force Petr into making an error as he filled the Sauber Academy driver’s mirrors with his white and black ART Grand Prix car. But Petr wasn’t giving in inch.
Drawing on his excellent race craft, he expertly held off the challenge from behind – and even managed to reel in the battle for P4 that was playing out further up the track.
Unfortunately, the race clock ran out of time as Petr put himself within striking distance of the tussle ahead and he settled for P6 – and another eight points – at the chequered flag.
“The second race was fun and I felt confident in the car to be able to hold off the pack behind me,” Petr said.
“For me, scoring points in both races rounded off a decent debut and I’m really pleased with how we worked as a team during our first race weekend together.
“Big thanks to everyone at MP Motorsport and I’m already looking forward to building on this performance at the next races in Germany.”
Petr will return to the MP Motorsport cockpit next weekend (6-8 November) when the penultimate round of the season is held at the Hockenheimring.