Grégoire Saucy has been utterly dominant so far in FRECA, winning more than half of the races and leading by 60 points in the Standings. The Swiss driver opens up and explains how he has been able to find so much pace this year.
By Perceval Wolff
Hadrien David, Gabriele Minì, Paul Aron, David Vidales; the new Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine had plenty of title contenders before the start of the season. However, six rounds later, all of these drivers have been beaten by Grégoire Saucy, driving for ART Grand Prix for the 2nd consecutive year after finishing 7th last year in Formula Renault Eurocup. With 60 points more than his nearest rival Hadrien David, the Swiss driver looks unstoppable. How does he explain this domination?
“Honestly, it’s a combination of several things: first of all, I have a new race engineer this year and the relationship with him is excellent, I get along well with my mechanics, the guys of the team, I know nearly all of them from last year so it really helps to feel comfortable. We form an excellent team. And I really love the Pirelli tyres compared to the Hankook’s of last year: with Pirelli, we really need to deliver on one single lap, that’s what I prefer.”
The Swiss driver from Bassecourt has never won a championship in his motorsport career but Saucy doesn’t want to think about it too much: “I want to have the same focus as when I started the season. The season is not over, anything can happen so I have to think race by race. At the moment, I only think about the next round at the Red Bull Ring. We will try to improve at every session. And then only, I’ll think about the next round.”
But what does Saucy think about his rivals, and especially about his 16-year-old teammate, Gabriele Minì? In the last race at Spa-Francorchamps (won by Saucy), the Italian and the Swiss drivers battled hard but fairly, costing both of them some precious time. “The relation between us is really good, we do nearly all the travelling together, from the hotel to the track, from the simulator to the factory, etc. Well, on track, we always battle because we are drivers. We lost a bit of time at Spa but yes, he’s progressing well. Anyway, I will do my best to stay ahead of him, that’s my goal!”
Grégoire Saucy is not new to the Formula Regional level: even though it’s his second full season, he started his career in Formula Renault in 2017 before coming back to F4 later that season. “Well, in ‘16, I started my career in the VdeV Championship and then I did three races in Eurocup in ’17 with AV Formula where I clearly had my worst motorsport experience in my career so far.”
“The relationship with my engineer and my team was really poor and I felt I was there to give them money and got nothing in return. My family didn’t have money so I had to look for sponsors to race, and I kept on having mechanical failures while the team was doing nothing to correct it. So that’s why we decided to stop that season: all the other teams in the Eurocup were full, so our only possibility was to go down to F4.”
With this incredible 2021 season, the Swiss driver is surely on the short-list of several FIA F3 teams for next year; does Saucy have any team preference? “First, to go to F3, I have to finish my season but that’s the goal for sure! The most logical choice would be to stick with ART GP. I’d prefer that as I have been with the team for two years. But there are always several options. What matters is going to a top team. And if I finish the year the way I started it, I really don’t see why I wouldn’t find a place in these best teams.”
However, at 21 years old, Grégoire Saucy is much older than his rivals in FRECA who are only 16 or 17. For several years, we have seen that motorsport teams are more and more eager to take on very young drivers (Verstappen, Tsunoda in F1, Pourchaire in F2, Crawford in F3). Is the ART GP driver worried that future teams will opt for younger drivers he has beaten this year who could possibly have more potential?
“Honestly, I don’t think so. The goal of every team is to be quick and to win. That’s true, I’m 21, I took a bit more time because I hadn’t done any international karting when I was young. I’d only done a few races in the Swiss Karting championship which is a really small championship with not more than eight drivers by category. So it was hard to learn how to overtake, how to defend your position, the level was not really high. That’s why I needed more seasons in single-seaters to make up for the lack of experience.”
Paid to drive
With so little karting experience, what convinced Grégoire Saucy to try to become a professional driver? “In December 2015, my brothers and my fathers offered me two days of tests in single-seaters. We saw I was quick so I decided to give it a go and do a full season in the VdeV Championship the year after. And it’s after that season that I realized I could and wanted to go much further.”
To go much further? What are the objectives of the Swiss driver for his motorsport career? “My ultimate goal is not only F1, it’s being a professional driver. Being paid to drive, whatever the championship. Right now, I’m driving in the F1 feeder series so for the moment we’re trying to go to F1 and we’ll see if it stops at some point. F1 is a dream for every driver but there are so many categories in motorsport, so we will see where I will be able to go.”
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