Czech driver Petr Ptacek succeeded in his aim of scoring points on his debut in the Formula Renault Eurocup at Monza this weekend, impressively charging from P19 to P9 during the opening race at the famous Italian circuit.
Embarking on only his second year of car racing, the 16-year-old’s first race in the new-look series was hampered by a technical issue in qualifying.
“We had a problem with the water temperature sensor,” Petr explained. “It meant the turbo wasn’t delivering full power and that was a big problem at the exit of corners and the start of the straights where speed is crucial.
“Normally, the engine is smart. But as the management system received false information that the water was not warm enough, the control unit decided to protect the engine and limited the turbo. Because of this, I was losing about nine-tenths of a second per lap in qualifying and that compromised my race on Saturday.
“I managed to progress from P19 to P9 during the race, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to catch the leaders. Early in the race there was a Safety Car period and on the restart lap it was quite chaotic and the front group was able to pull away. The group I was in was fighting hard and I was the driver making a slipstream for those behind me. There was too much of a gap to the guys at the front.”
Qualifying for Sunday’s Race Two was held in wet conditions, with poor visibility, standing water and several yellow-flag periods making it difficult to find a clear lap.
“I did two ‘push’ laps and was provisionally P3 in the early stages of the session, but then a decision was made that I should pit for a second set of new tyres,” Petr said.
“It was a good idea at the time, but unfortunately there was another full-course yellow followed by a red flag, which meant I didn’t get to take advantage of the fresh rubber. In hindsight, I would have been better staying on the first set of tyres.
“Because my BhaiTech Racing team is new to the Formula Renault Eurocup, our garage is a long way down the pitlane and we couldn’t be high up in the queue of cars waiting to get back on track when the session restarted. Consequently, I was caught in a lot of traffic and there was no opportunity to improve my lap time.”
Petr started P17 in his Rich Energy-liveried car. It was a frustrating race in treacherous conditions, with three Safety Car periods restricting the number of racing laps. Nevertheless, Petr racked up valuable mileage as he climbed to P12 at the finish.
“Race Two was just crazy! It is difficult to see anything out of this new Formula Renault car in those conditions and when the race finally got underway I don’t think anyone was able to go flat-out on the straights,” he explained.
Summing up the weekend, the Parmigiani Watches-supported driver said: “It is good that we have some points in the bank already, but more is possible. I think we have the speed in both wet and dry conditions and I feel confident in the team. We still have 18 races to go and we’re already focusing on the next one.”
The next event of Petr’s Formula Renault Eurocup campaign takes place at Silverstone, Great Britain, on 9-12 May.