Arthur Pic enjoyed a strong start to his maiden GP2 Series campaign last weekend after finishing fifth in the opening round’s feature race at the Bahrain International Circuit.
The Frenchman, who was making his championship debut with GP2 returnees Campos Racing, gradually increased his pace throughout Friday’s practice and qualifying sessions to line up ninth for the first race of the season on Saturday.
A poor getaway initially saw him drop three positions on the opening lap before embarking on a storming comeback drive. As in Formula 1, prudent management of the Pirelli tyres is crucial to performing well. But despite his lack of experience, Pic was able to eke out the soft compound rubber a couple of laps longer than the leaders ahead before diving in to make his mandatory pit-stop.
That strategy ensured he was able to exploit the fresher hard tyres over a shorter final stint, rapidly closing in and passing the likes of GP2 veteran Stephane Richelmi, 2012 GP3 champion Mitch Evans and Caterham F1 protégé Rio Haryanto thanks to a number of fine overtaking moves. Arthur would ultimately take the chequered flag fifth, a remarkable result for Campos after a five-year spell away from the Series.
Come Sunday the 22-year-old almost made it two points finishes from two races. Starting fourth courtesy of the reverse grid, a couple of positions were again lost on the opening lap before he settled in behind pole-sitter Felipe Nasr.
Pic would spend much of the 23-lap race relentlessly searching for a way past the Williams F1 reserve, only for a late clash with Richelmi – which saw the DAMS driver hit the Campos car – to drop him one place shy of the points in ninth.
Arthur Pic: “Overall, I am very satisfied with my debut GP2 weekend. As early as free practice the balance of the car felt good and it stayed the same throughout the weekend. Pace-wise, we managed to get into the top 10 in qualifying, which is an accurate indication of where we stand right now. The team and I have worked hard over the winter to start the season in the best possible shape.
“Coming from FR3.5, I was slightly concerned about tyre degradation and management, but I’m quite happy with how I handled those factors over the weekend. I did lose three places at the start on Saturday but made the most of my pit-stop to recover. We were clearly matching the pace of the podium finishers.
“Sunday proved slightly more complicated as I ended up in the wake of Nasr’s car for the whole race. This sped up the tyre degradation process and hurt my pace at the end. I was then hit by Richelmi and lost further ground before finishing ninth.
“But Campos and I can still take many positives from the opening GP2 round and enjoy this strong result as it rewards all the effort we have put in over the winter.”
Arthur now travels to Europe for round two of the campaign at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on May 9-11, which acts as the support event to the Spanish Grand Prix.