Formula Renault Eurocup driver Petr Ptacek gained useful experience as he made his racing debut on the streets of Monaco this weekend, although a points-scoring finish narrowly eluded the talented 16-year-old from the Czech Republic.
It was a weekend of firsts for Petr as he not only came face-to-face with the tight and twisty 3.33km street circuit for the first time, but also drove in front of a bumper Formula One crowd that had gathered to watch the Monaco Grand Prix weekend action unfold.
Track conditions for Friday’s qualifying session were challenging, with a wet-but-drying surface and two full-course caution periods. Parmigiani Watches-supported Petr found he didn’t have the optimum set-up for the changeable conditions and had to be content with P15 on the grid for his first race on Saturday.
He progressed to P11 during that on-track battle, just one position shy of the points. He said: “I drove a calm race, which proved to be good decision because I made up places as the drivers ahead made mistakes. I’m not particularly satisfied, though, because if we’d qualified more strongly we would have finished in the points.”
Petr started Sunday’s second race from P16, but his Bhaitech Racing car was pushed wide as the field jostled for position at the start and he fell down the order.
“The feeling I had with the car was much better than in qualifying or race one, so I was happy about that,” he explained. “However, at the start I was pushed wide towards the barriers and had to lift off the throttle, dropping to last in the process. After that I made five clean overtakes, which I was pleased about because it really isn’t very easy to pass in Monaco.
“Starting so far back, I knew it would be a difficult challenge to score points, so the only strategy was to push to the maximum. Unfortunately, I made a small mistake, overshot the corner at the exit of the swimming pool complex and made contact with the barrier. The rear suspension broke and I had to retire.
“As I predicted prior to the event, this was certainly a challenging weekend. But I can take positives from the way the car felt much improved for the second race and the whole experience of racing on an iconic circuit like this is something I want to repeat. It’s an incredible track – and I feel very lucky to have had this opportunity.”
Petr provisionally remains P10 in the Formula Renault Eurocup standings with six of 20 races completed.
“We don’t have much time to dwell on Monaco because we immediately have to turn our focus to the next race weekend at Paul Ricard, which starts on Friday. We know the areas in which we need to improve and we will continue to push hard,” he said.
Petr will compete at the home of the French Grand Prix between 31 May to 2 June. He has useful previous experience of the fast and flowing circuit, having scored a brace of Rookie Cup podiums at the venue during his title-winning Italian F4 Championship campaign in 2018.