Arthur Pic surged to a triumphant maiden Formula Renault 3.5 victory yesterday (July 15) after the DAMS driver made good on the superb pace he displayed throughout the series’ maiden trip to Moscow Raceway.
The Frenchman’s weekend began with a strong run in the first race that netted a clutch of crucial points in the highly competitive championship. Starting fourth, Pic made an excellent launch but slipped to fifth after a difficult opening lap. With limited overtaking opportunities around the newly inaugurated Russian venue he then focussed on protecting his tyres while maintaining a watching brief on the top four.
He would pick up a spot mid-race when Marco Sorensen spun down the order from second before the first of two safety car periods effectively sealed his fourth position.
Despite his points haul Pic could justifiably feel his strong pace had not been fully rewarded in race one, but come Sunday’s second contest he would fulfil that promise in the best possible fashion.
Lining up third, the 20-year-old made a stellar getaway to challenge pole-sitter Jules Bianchi for the lead into turn one. A defensive move from his fellow countryman forced the DAMS driver to back off and settle for retaining his grid spot, but when Bianchi and fellow front-row starter Sorensen made contact at the next corner Pic kept his cool to slip past and into the lead.
With several competitors colliding during the opening tour the safety car was deployed, leaving Pic at the head of the pack under neutralised conditions. When racing resumed he maintained his lead and immediately began to build an advantage, the Frenchman continuing to light-up the timing screen throughout his opening stint.
A superb turnaround in the pits from the DAMS mechanics saw him comfortably retain his lead for the second half of the race and, with clear track ahead of him, Pic was able to ease away from his rivals. The DAMS man duly went on to claim a well-deserved victory by 8.5 seconds while also confirming his dominance by bagging the fastest lap.
Arthur Pic: “I made a good start in the first race but Jules covered his position and I lost a spot. Our pace wasn’t great and fourth was about our level, so I was happy with the result. In the evening we had a few ideas on set-up improvements for Sunday that worked out well.
“In qualifying for race two we set the third fastest time, though I think the car was capable of pole. I made a good start and the first two touched, allowing me to take the lead. There was then a big crash which brought the safety car out for several laps, but when we got going again I knew that our set-up changes had worked as the car was very competitive. We managed to build a gap over the drivers behind, pulling around 2.5 seconds in three laps. This allowed us to make our pit stop without too much pressure and, thanks to some great work from the team, the car was turned around very quickly.
“I had a comfortable lead after the stop and kept up a good pace, setting the fastest lap close to the end. After that I was able to take it easy to the finish.
“I am thrilled with my maiden win in the series and I’m especially happy for the DAMS team as this is their first victory since returning to the category. The weekend’s results also put me back in the hunt for the championship, especially with those ahead of me not scoring any points in the second race.”
Pic’s success in Russia has significantly boosted his assault on the top of the standings, promoting the Frenchman to sixth and within touching distance of a place amongst the top three. He will look to advance that push with success in the series’ next event at Silverstone over the weekend of August 25/26.