Pic ends 2012 season with spirited performance at Circuit de Catalunya
Arthur Pic concluded the 2012 Formula Renault 3.5 season with a fighting comeback drive to sixth and an impressive wet weather qualifying effort at Circuit de Catalunya (October 20/21).
Better known for blue skies and sunshine, the Catalan venue experienced heavy rain during Friday’s opening practice session when Pic was comfortably amongst the top-10, despite not running on new tyres. That left the DAMS driver and his engineers thrilled with the progress made at last month’s Paul Ricard event where significant effort went into wet weather set-ups.
But with the track dry for the afternoon session the Frenchman would encounter problems on fresh rubber. “We tried to understand what the issue was and came up with a few ideas,” said Pic. “We weren’t feeling too confident in dry conditions but at least we had some potential solutions.”
Saturday morning’s first qualifying was punctuated by several red flags which made a clear lap difficult to come by for the 21-year-old. “In addition to this,” added Pic, “our garage is at the far end of the pit-lane, so we always join the track last and thus lose a lap.” Securing 11th on the grid, the DAMS pilot took the chequered flag in the same position after a close-fought scrap over ninth spot. “We all had more or less equal speed on the main straight and were hitting the rev limiter at the same place,” explained Pic afterwards.
Dark skies welcomed the drivers on Sunday morning and rain soon began to fall on the Spanish venue. This gave Pic and his team a chance to show just how much progress they have made in wet conditions as he delivered a stellar lap to secure a spot on the front-row of the grid, missing pole by just a tenth of a second. “We were the only ones to improve our time on the second set of tyres,” said a delighted Pic following his lap. “Along with the two pole positions I took in Aragon, this was my best qualifying of the year.”
Though the circuit had dried again in time for the afternoon’s race Pic remained confident of a strong result. He slipped from second to fourth at the start but stayed in close contact with third placed Robin Frijns, only to lose ground during the pit-stop phase.
Pic then went on the offensive, scything past both Will Stevens and Sam Bird before overhauling series champion Frijns late in the race to seal P6. “It’s always frustrating to start second and finish sixth,” he lamented, though the race did give the Frenchman a final chance to demonstrate his overtaking prowess.
Having cemented eighth spot in the Formula Renault 3.5 standings, Pic will now lend his experience to series newcomers AV Formula. Managed by his friend and fellow countryman, respected race engineer Philippe Gautheron, Pic will pilot the new squad’s car during this week’s two-day test at Circuit de Catalunya (23/24 October).
“Overall this season his been a touch disappointing,” concluded Pic. “If I had scored points at the end of each qualifying session, I would be much higher up the standings! I must continue to improve in the races as I look to progress further in 2013.”
For more information on Arthur Pic, please visit www.arthurpic.com