Arthur Pic’s Formula Renault 3.5 season ends as cars collide

Arthur Pic is looking to the future after his Formula Renault 3.5 campaign came to a disappointing conclusion at Circuit de Catalunya last weekend (19/20 Arthur-Pic-RenaultOctober). The AV Formula driver, who suffered two DNFs at the Spanish Grand Prix venue, is now keen to focus on the GP2 Series test he will take part in next month.

The event had begun well during Friday practice when Pic set the seventh and fifth fastest times, boosting his hopes of a strong conclusion to the season. Unfortunately a change in track conditions meant he couldn’t recapture that pace in Saturday qualifying, leaving the Frenchman to take 14th on the grid.

The race would prove equally frustrating as he made a good start only for a substantial accident ahead to trigger a collision between Pic and two rival cars. Despite the incident, he was able to continue while the Safety Car was deployed and crash debris cleared. However he ducked into the pits shortly after racing resumed, retiring due to left-rear wheel damage sustained in the opening lap incident.

Pic’s fortunes appeared to have changed on Sunday morning when he rediscovered his practice pace, delivering an excellent lap during the fog-hit qualifying session to seal third on the grid.

And the race would also begin well for the Frenchman, who moved into P2 at the start and ran third throughout the early stages, sparking hopes of a season-ending podium finish.

Unfortunately Pic’s race would begin to go wrong at the pit-stop phase, with the decision to leave him on track while his rivals pitted ultimately proving to be incorrect and costing him several positions. When the AV Formula racer did take his stop the car’s right-rear wheel was not fitted properly, forcing Pic to retire almost immediately and ending his season early.

Arthur Pic: “Our pace was very good in Friday practice so we were confident of a good weekend. But on Saturday morning the track seemed to have changed completely. We were suffering from really bad understeer and just couldn’t find the speed. In the race I was involved in a crash at the start; someone hit me from behind and damaged my left-rear wheel, which ultimately forced us out of contention.

“On Sunday we made big progress with the set-up and I was really pleased to take third on the grid. I made a good start to move into P2 and was on the pace with Stoffel Vandoorne and Kevin Magnussen at the front. Unfortunately we then had a problem at the pit-stop where the right-rear was not fitted properly and I was forced to retire again. Obviously it’s really disappointing as I think we had the pace to be on the podium.

“But, while it would have been nice to finish the season on a high, I won’t dwell on this weekend. I’ll be driving in the GP2 test which takes place in Abu Dhabi next month and am already focussed on this. I’m really looking forward to the opportunity and seeing what it leads to for next year.”

Pic’s GP2 test will take place following the series’ season-closing race at the Yas Marina circuit on 2/3 November.

— Tom Hornsby