Despite showing flashes of impressive pace, the second round of the Formula Renault Eurocup season proved frustrating for Czech racer Petr Ptacek as mechanical gremlins forced his retirement from both races this weekend.
The Sauber Academy driver had high hopes heading to Imola in Italy, but a slight issue hindered his performance in first qualifying.
“In the beginning we had strong pace. On Friday we changed something on the car and we seemed to know which direction we should go in qualifying. But to be honest, in Q1 I was not performing well,” he admitted.
“It was my mistake and I know what I did wrong. It was my mental approach that was wrong.
“I focused too much mentally instead of feeling the car and driving using my senses, which could have been better. Sometimes I try to be too perfect and I lose more time than I gain. But it’s something I will put right.”
MindMaze-supported Petr made good progress in Saturday’s first race however, and was on for a strong points finish with one of his trademark drives through the field from his P12 starting berth.
However, his R-ace GP car suffered suspension damage and that sent Petr off the road and into the trackside gravel. His chances of a positive result were over.
“In race one the pace seemed really good, I was catching the guys in front,” the 17-year-old explained.
“I was happy with the car and it looked positive, but then the suspension broke and my wheel came off.
“It’s a shame but these things happen in motorsport. It was a new experience – not the best one – but it happens to a lot of drivers and you can become stronger from it.”
Unfortunately, a yellow flag on his final qualifying lap ahead of Sunday morning’s second race prevented Petr from starting any higher than P10.
“Massive thanks to my mechanics and team who did a totally amazing job by working through to 04.00am on Sunday morning to get the car repaired for the final day of action.”
In the last round at Monza, Petr had jumped from P7 to P4 on the first lap in a fine display of his fast-starting speed.
Again in Imola, this impressive trait was on show, as Petr immediately gained a couple of places to move up to P8.
“I think at the moment I need to be aggressive and it’s what I need to do in qualifying as well as at the starts, use my instincts, drive purely,” he reflected.
“I seem to be able to position the car and I seem to gain some positions on the first lap.”
Petr had just set a personal best first sector as he hunted down P7, but a mechanical problem suddenly intervened and his car drew to a halt with an apparent fuel pressure issue after only four laps.
The third round of the Formula Renault Eurocup will be held at the historic Nürburgring in Germany on 5-6 September, meaning Petr has some useful time to regroup and put his Imola disappointment behind him.