This weekend sees Arthur Pic embark on a fresh Formula Renault 3.5 Series campaign at the historic Monza circuit in Italy (6/7 April) where the Frenchman is hoping to make a big impression with his new team.
After spending two seasons with French outfits, Pic is taking the plunge with Spanish squad AV Formula, which is contesting its first season of the World Series by Renault’s premier single-seater category.
Inexperienced the team might be but between Pic, who is entering his third year of FR3.5, highly-respected race engineer Philippe Gautheron and former Series runner-up-turned-team-owner Adrian Valles there is quiet confidence that AV Formula can spring something of a surprise in its first year.
“My goal is to fight for the championship, which means winning when we can and scoring solid points when the going gets tough,” confirms Pic, who finished eighth in last year’s standings despite enduring a tough end to the season. “Having Philippe in the team is fantastic and played a big role in my decision to join AV Formula. He worked with my brother Charles in GP2 and is known for getting the maximum out of any racing car he’s involved with. Meanwhile Adrian has done a good job to prepare the team for Formula Renault 3.5 and is also someone I can turn to for advice having raced at this level fairly recently. So it’s a good combination.”
The 21-year-old is also honest when it comes to assessing where he can make personal improvements compared to 2012. “Clearly I need to improve my race management,” he admits. “Last year I generally had strong pace in qualifying but then made too many mistakes in the races, so this year my goal is to transfer single lap performance into two concerted race results.”
While pre-season testing offered an opportunity to iron out the usual problems all new teams experience, Pic was at least able to demonstrate the raw pace that helped him bag a brace of pole positions and a race victory last year by setting the third fastest time at Paul Ricard. The working relationship with his new team has also been aided by moving closer to AV’s headquarters in Barcelona.
“It’s certainly different and I have had to adapt to the Spanish lifestyle,” he says. “Perhaps it sounds strange but the biggest change is eating lunch at 3pm and dinner at 10 or 11 in the evening. That makes it a bit difficult when I visit France and have something at 8pm! But the work ethos is the same as any other team committed to winning. Everyone is motivated and that’s the most important element.”
And what of Monza this weekend? As a rookie Arthur finished a creditable ninth there the last time FR3.5 visited in 2011 and, two years on, is hoping for a solid start to his campaign. “Yes, I like Monza and its unusual characteristics. We will need a very low downforce set-up, which makes everything a bit trickier in the heavy braking zones due to the lack of rear stability, while managing degradation of the rear tyres will also be key this weekend. I’m fully expecting to finish in the top-five in both races and to get my championship off to a decent start.”
Saturday 6 April:
09:00: Qualifying 1
13:00: Race 1
Sunday 7 April:
09:00: Qualifying 2
13:05: Race 2
*All times local
For more information on Arthur Pic, please visit www.arthurpic.com.
Photo by Media52 Motorsport.