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Category: World Series by Renault

Carlos HuertasCarlos Huertas has secured Carlin’s first win of the 2013 Formula Renault 3.5 Series this afternoon after a dominant performance in Motorland, Spain. Following a safety car start Huertas took the lead once racing action commenced, leading the race comfortably to take victory by nearly 12 seconds. Team mate Jazeman Jaafar battled his way through the field and came home to finish in a solid 12th place.

Following a wet qualifying session this morning, the heavy rain continued throughout the day making track conditions treacherous for the second race of the weekend, which was consequently started behind the safety car. As a result, Huertas was unable to challenge for the lead off the line and stayed in second place behind pole sitter Norman Nato. When the safety car was called in at the end of lap four, Huertas stayed close to the leader who ran wide at the first corner giving Huertas the perfect opportunity to take the lead and give himself the clear run at the front he wanted.

Meanwhile Jaafar had also enjoyed a good restart and was up to 20th position from the back of the grid, after being unable to set a time in qualifying due to a spin. The FR3.5 rookie was coping well despite lack of vision caused by towering walls of spray the Formula Renault 3.5 cars were throwing into the air.

The Petronas backed driver fought well with both Daniil Move and with Yann Cunha notably on his way to securing 12th place in the shortened race; taking home a hard fought rookie podium in the process.

At the front Huertas was controlling the race and pulling out a large gap over second placed man Sergey Sirotkin. With the gap up to a dominant 12 seconds the Colombian driver held steady despite the poor visibility and slippery conditions – coming home to take a sensational win after a total of 14 racing laps.

Reflecting on his victory Huertas said, “It feels great to have got the win! It was so tough out there and when I saw Nato go off just after the safety car came in I knew I had a high chance for the win and went for it. I aqua-planed a couple of times during the race but I think that was inevitable given the really difficult conditions on track. I was really concentrating on staying on the road and not making a mistake throughout the race. Today really has been great for me and great for the team.”

Trevor Carlin added, “It’s been a difficult weekend for the team in many ways and we were very unhappy with our results yesterday. While there is still a lot of work to do, we’ve made a step forward today and Carlos drove fantastically all day to cope with the difficult conditions and make no mistakes. It’s unfortunate that Jazeman wasn’t able to show his pace as well, but he had a great drive through the field again to get on the rookie podium. This has been a good boost for the team and we’re looking forward to the next race.”

Carlin’s Carlos Huertas will start on the front row of the grid for the second race of the Formula Renault 3.5 Series weekend in Motorland after a brilliant last minute lap in qualifying. A strong performance from the Colombian in the pouring rain saw him put his car second on the grid in the challenging wet conditions. Team mate Jazeman Jaafar saw his fortune reversed following a spin early on in the session, he will start 23rd.

Sunday morning brought news to the teams that the qualifying session and second race of the weekend would be a shortened affair due to engine problems discovered with the Formula Renault 3.5 cars up and down the field. With just 15 minutes time on track and the rain falling it became important to get out and set a lap time fast. As the cars hit the track the awful conditions quickly became apparent and a multitude of cars slid off and struggled with the lack of grip.

Unfortunately, Jaafar was an early victim of the weather with the young Malaysian spinning and stopping on track. As the time counted down, the conditions continued to deteriorate with a total of four red flags disrupting the session.

Meanwhile Huertas had been steadily learning the track limits and getting up to speed, lying sixth for the majority of running. However in the final minutes Huertas set a brilliant lap to place him second on the grid for the second race this afternoon.

Reflecting on qualifying he said, ‘It was really tough out there; a lot of water on track and very disrupted because of the red flags. You couldn’t see much at all down the straights which was tricky. It was basically a one lap qualifying session; I had to find the gap and get a good lap. I’m pleased with where I qualified and now look ahead to the race this afternoon – but again it will be all about dealing with the conditions!’

Team manager Ricky Taylor added, ‘The rain made qualifying so difficult for everybody out there this morning. Carlos did a really good job to deal with the conditions and get a lap in when it mattered despite the red flags. He kept the car on track and drove well. Jazeman was unlucky to get caught out but that’s what racing in the wet it like – it happens.’

Carlin’s Jazeman Jaafar has picked up points for a seventh place finish in the opening round of the Formula Renault 3.5 Series in Monza, Italy. Team mate Carlos Huertas found his race hampered while taking avoiding action following a first corner incident involving those around him however the Colombian driver recovered well throughout the race to come home in 16th.

Following two very wet collective test sessions yesterday the Carlin men took to the circuit this morning for qualifying on a slightly damp track. Considering the tricky conditions the only option was to start on wet tyres and wait for the track to develop. Jaafar and Huertas both set their fastest time of the 30 minute session on the wet tyres. Despite most of the field, including the Carlin drivers, attempting to improve in the final minutes on slick tyres the times didn’t fall and grid was set. Jaafar was to start 11th and Huertas 14th.

Lining up on the gird, the damp track from earlier had disappeared leaving a dry race in store. As the lights went out Petronas backed Jaafar moved quickly to gain position and by the end of the first lap had made his way up to ninth. Unfortunately for Huertas his start was an opposite affair – with incidents occurring around him he was caught in the first corner melee and found himself down the order in 21st.

Contact between Will Stevens and Nikolay Martsenko left the latter in the gravel and Stevens recovering in the pit lane; benefiting from this, Jaafar moved up to sixth and Huertas 19th. Closing the gap to those around him Huertas then made his way past both Emmanuel Piget and Marco Sorensen over the course of the next few laps.

Meanwhile at the front of the field a fast charging Antonio Felix da Costa was looking likely to attack race leader Stoffel Vandoorne however a sudden puncture took him out of the race and left the way clear for rookie Jaafar to move up once again to fifth.

Unfortunately for Jaafar in the closing stages of the race Nigel Melker and Arthur Pic were able to make their way through however the Carlin man came home in an impressive seventh place in his first Formula Renault 3.5 race. Team mate Huertas took the chequered flag in 16th.

Reflecting on his race Jaafar said, ‘It was a pretty good race for me. I stayed out of trouble and enjoyed the battles with Melker and Pic. It was a consistent run and I think we fought really well as a team. My goal coming in to the weekend was to score points so I’m pleased to have done that. I really enjoyed my first World Series race and it’s been very encouraging.’

Huertas added of his day, ‘Qualifying this morning went OK for us, we started on the wet tyres and then on to slicks but the conditions meant it was impossible to improve.

‘During the opening lap I had to take avoiding action in the first and second chicane so I lost a lot of time and then had to spend my race gaining back positions. However you can’t control what happens around you so obviously I’m a little disappointed because I know we could have been further up without that. But we look ahead to qualifying tomorrow now.’

Arthur PicThis 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.”

Monza timetable*

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.

Lotus F1 Junior TeamLotus F1 Team is proud to announce its roster of drivers for the newly launched Lotus F1 Junior Team. The seven drivers announced today will be supported by the team in all areas of driving skills, physical fitness, health and nutrition, social and mental development, business ethics and principals, as well as PR training.

The seven drivers will contest within a variety of motorsport championships from the World Series by Renault Formula Renault 3.5 Series through the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 to KF category karting.

Eric Boullier, Team Principal, Lotus F1 Team;
“Lotus F1 Junior Team takes our previous i-Race Professional young driver academy and builds on it to be more closely aligned with the Formula 1 team and all the benefits brought by this association. We have announced seven highly talented drivers, many of whom will be competing against their fellow team-mates from the programme. We’re offering an in-depth and highly beneficial training regime which should encourage these drivers to develop and perform at their very best. Motorsport can be very daunting for young drivers, particularly everything that occurs away from the track, so we hope to give our drivers the very best preparation possible for their future careers.”

The 2013 Lotus F1 Junior Team
Marco Sørensen, 22, Denmark, FR 3.5 with Lotus World Series Team
Marlon Stockinger, 21, Philippines, FR 3.5 with Lotus World Series Team
Alex Fontana, 20, Switzerland, GP3 with Jenzer Motorsport
Oscar Tunjo,17, Colombia, Eurocup FR 2.0 with Kaufmann Racing
Esteban Ocon, 16, France, Eurocup FR 2.0 with ART Junior Team
Alexander Albon, 16, Thailand, Eurocup FR 2.0 team TBA
Dorian Boccolacci, 14, France, Go Kart International KF category with Energy Corse

Q&As with the 2013 Lotus F1 Junior Team Drivers

Marco Sørensen – Denmark – World Series by Renault

How did you come to be involved with the Lotus F1 Team Junior programme?
At the end of 2011 I was contacted by Gravity Sports Management and the Charouz team to take part in a World Series by Renault test. The deal was that I had to be quickest for them to take a closer look at me which was tricky as it was a big step up from Formula 3, so it’s great to be here and I think this association with the team can only be good for my career in terms of exposure to the top levels of motorsport.

What are your targets for this season in World Series by Renault?
I had some bad luck last year where mechanical issues ended my race whilst in the lead which meant P5 in the championship when it could have been more. At the end, it all comes down to results; if you don’t perform then you won’t progress, so I’m hoping for a bit more good fortune this year and am looking forward to taking on a new challenge with the Lotus F1 Junior Team.

Marlon Stockinger – Philippines – World Series by Renault

How significant is joining the Lotus F1 Junior Team programme to your career?
It’s a great feeling to be associated with such a prestigious team. If you look back through the years as Benetton and Renault you can see that this team knows how to win championships, so to be surrounded by that heritage is a big honour for me. I really want to make the most of it and am looking forward to wearing the team colours with pride.

It’s a big year for you making the step up to World Series by Renault; what are your thoughts heading into the season?
Of course, every driver wants to win, but I understand it’s a big step moving into a new category so learning is the most important thing. Starting with testing, I need to take in as much as I can and from there it’s all about consistency and building a strong platform to progress through the ranks. I’m aiming to make a good start and develop as much as I can as the championship progresses.

Alex Fontana – Switzerland – GP3 Series

Being part of the Lotus F1 Junior Team must be a big boost to your ambitions?
Definitely! I haven’t been part of a management programme before and it’s always tough for a young driver to find the backing and experience to help you progress. Being part of Lotus F1 Junior Team will definitely help to give me those things and it’s great to have people really behind you, pushing you to do the best you can. I’m really looking forward to the season ahead.

This will be your first full year in the GP3 Series; what are you looking for from your debut season?
I competed in a couple of races last year alongside the FIA Formula 2 championship and managed to take P4 in Spa, so I have had a good introduction to the championship already. This year the cars have changed slightly and will have a bit more power so it’s not going to be an easy transition, but my aim is to prove my ability over the course of the season and hopefully move on to the GP2 Series or World Series by Renault next year. If you want to get into Formula 1 – which is the ultimate target for any young driver in single-seater categories – then these are the ideal stepping stones to the top level.

Oscar Tunjo – Colombia – Formula Renault 2.0

What does being a member of Lotus F1 Junior Team mean to you?
It’s a big motivation. Just being at Enstone, walking around the factory and learning from all the team members who have such huge knowledge of their respective areas is fantastic. On top of that, I’ve been working with people who have coached so many world class drivers over the years and their experience is something that has made a big difference to me already. It’s a privilege to be part of the team.

You’re competing in Formula Renault 2.0 for the third year in 2013; what’s the aim for the season ahead?
I had a solid start in 2011 but 2012 was a tough year for me, so now I’m even more determined to come back and push for the championship. I feel like I have all the elements in place to make a strong challenge, so my goal is to be consistently at the front of the pack in every session; taking podiums and hopefully as many wins as possible along the way. My motivation is higher than ever to perform as part of the Lotus F1 Junior Team programme.

Esteban Ocon – France – Formula Renault 2.0

How does it feel to be part of the Lotus F1 Junior Team?
I’m familiar with Enstone having been with the Gravity Sports Management programme for the last four years, but it’s great to be associated with a team at the top level of motorsport. I’m trying not to think too much about the link to Formula 1 as it’s important to focus on what you are doing now and not look too far into the future, but I think for any young driver that must be the ultimate goal.

You’ll be taking on the Formula Renault 2.0 series for the second season in 2013; with your debut done and dusted, what would you be happy with this year?
Winning the championship has to be the goal; even if I can’t win every race, I want to be one of the drivers at the front all the way through the season. Last year I learned that consistency is the key, so my aim is to be up there fighting from start to finish.

Dorian Boccolacci – France – KF2 Karting

You’ve been coming to Enstone since the beginning of 2012; how have you enjoyed it so far?
It’s great to be part of the team; being at the factory is a real experience and to be surrounded by people who have worked with the best drivers in the world means I have the best people to learn from. Seeing what another French driver, Romain Grosjean, has achieved with the team has also been a big inspiration to me and so to be part of the setup at Enstone is a big thing for me.

You’re competing in the KF2 World Karting Championships this year; what are your aims for the year ahead?
The goal is always to win, and if you can’t win every time then to pick up the maximum points possible through the year is the most important thing. I managed to break into the top five in the World Championships last year, so the target is to be right at the front this season.

Alexander Albon – Thailand – Formula Renault 2.0

What does the Lotus F1 Junior Team programme mean to you?
It’s great to be a part of this programme. Being at the factory in Enstone is an amazing experience and I’m looking forward to learning as much as I can from my time there. Hopefully this will give me an even better chance to progress over the course of the season and put me in good shape for the future.

You’ll be tackling Formula Renault 2.0 for the second year in succession in 2013; what’s the plan for the season ahead?
Last year was a very tough one for me, so I’m almost thinking of this as my first real season. The first step will be to improve my consistency and take regular points finishes. With that baseline I’ll then be looking to push towards the top five, the podium and eventually race wins, but the priority is to take things step-by-step and develop a good solid platform to progress. Last year didn’t give me much of an opportunity to see where I stand, so I’m really looking forward to being able to show what I can do.

Jazeman Jaafar will stay with Carlin as he moves up to the Formula Renault 3.5 Series in 2013. Jaafar, who finished the 2012 British F3 International Series as vice champion, stays with former FR3.5 champions Carlin as he continues his career up the motorsport ladder.

The PETRONAS backed Malaysian took an impressive 15 podiums in British F3 this year as he fought for the title against team mate Jack Harvey. Jaafar took three wins in the British series, and one victory and three podiums in the F3 Euro Series, in which he completed three events. Prior to Formula 3, Jaafar competed in the Formula BMW Europe Championship and the Formula BMW Asia championship, of which he was champion at the tender age of 14.

In staying with Carlin for his FR3.5 campaign, Jaafar joins the only team to have won a race in every year of the championship’s history. Carlin have also won the drivers’ title on two occasions and were 2011 teams’ champions. The team has a strong history of producing future racing stars, with Sebastian Vettel, Jaime Alguersuari and Jean-Eric Vergne making the step into Formula 1 directly from Carlin’s Formula Renault 3.5 team.

In preparation for the challenges of 2013, 20 year-old Jaafar has already completed several promising test days with Carlin in the FR3.5 car and is confident of a strong rookie season.

Speaking about his new challenge, Jaafar said, “I’m very excited to be making the move up to Formula Renault 3.5 with Carlin which is obviously a team I know very well. Making the transition to FR3.5 has been easier because I’ve done it within Carlin and I already feel comfortable in the car. It’s a big step up from Formula 3 in terms of power and the level of downforce, but it’s a great package and a great car to drive. There will be a lot to learn next year but I’m confident that we have the potential to make the very most out

Trevor Carlin added, “We are delighted and very proud that PETRONAS have chosen to place Jazeman with us again in 2013. We’ve had the pleasure of having him as part of Carlin for the past three seasons and we’ve seen him mature and improve with every year. Jazeman is still very young, but now is the right time for him to make the step up to FR3.5 and based on his performance in testing, I expect him to improve even further in his rookie season in the series.”

The 2013 FR3.5 season will kick off in Monza in April, with pre-season testing taking place from February onwards. Jaafar’s team mate in the Carlin squad will be announced shortly.

AV FormulaArthur Pic and Yann Cunha will fly the flag for AV Formula during their debut Formula Renault 3.5 season in 2013 after an agreement was signed today (December 3) at the team’s Montmelo headquarters.

21-year-old Pic was Formul’Academy Euro Series champion in 2008 and subsequently spent two successful years competing in the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup, finishing third in the standings in 2010.

The Frenchman stepped up to the ultra-competitive Formula Renault 3.5 Series in 2011 and finished eighth this season after a breakthrough campaign that included a maiden win at Moscow Raceway as well as a further podium at Motorland Aragon and a brace of pole positions.

Cunha meanwhile won the prestigious Granja Viana 500 Miles kart race in his native Brazil in 2010, beating Formula 1 drivers past and present – including Rubens Barrichello, Felipe Massa and Christian Fittipaldi – to claim victory. During the same season he was runner-up in the South American Formula 3 championship before switching to the prestigious British category in 2011. This year saw him make his Formula Renault 3.5 debut, providing the 21-year-old with excellent groundwork for his switch to AV Formula.

Arthur Pic, AV Formula driver: “I’m thrilled to have signed with AV Formula for the 2013 Formula Renault 3.5 season and am already eager to resume testing with the team.

“It’s great to have my plans for next year in place before Christmas and to be able to work with the excellent technical team that Adrian Valles has assembled.

“In particular, the opportunity to join Philippe Gautheron was simply too good to pass up. He is one of the top engineers outside Formula 1 and his results in GP2 speak for themself. What’s more, having worked with my brother Charles during 2011 I know that he is a great guy both professionally and away from the circuit. Adrian meanwhile has an outstanding record in single-seater racing, not least with his Superleague Formula title and his runner-up finish in Formula Renault 3.5, and is now translating that success into team management.”

Yann Cunha, AV Formula driver: “Following several post-season outings with AV Formula I felt that we shared the same approach to racing. I was able to make great progress and we demonstrated this during the final collective test at Motorland Aragon.

“With a deal now in place I am going to work extremely hard over the winter in order to achieve great results with the team in 2013. Our objective is to be competitive from the first race at Monza.

“I would like to thank AV Formula for placing their trust in me. It will be a pleasure to work with great professionals like Adrian Valles and Philippe Gautheron.”

Adrian Valles, AV Formula Owner and Team Principal: “After several months of hard work assembling the new team we are pleased to be able to announce our drivers before Christmas. This allows us to begin working with our technical crew immediately while also spending time on the simulator that we are developing at our Montmelo facility.

“It is a pleasure to have Yann and Arthur on board for the 2013 season and we believe that both will do a great job for the team. The objective for Yann is to score points from the word go while learning as much as possible from his more experienced team-mate. Meanwhile, Arthur’s two seasons in the series mean that 2013 will be an important year for him. Our technical director Philippe Gautheron has a great relationship with him after working with his brother Charles, who currently races in Formula 1. It is a real plus that they get on so well and will help us to fight for the championship with Arthur.”

Following pre-season testing, which begins at Spanish venue Motorland Aragon on February 22/23 and continues at Paul Ricard (March 8/9) and Circuit de Catalunya (March 19/20), the 2013 Formula Renault 3.5 campaign will begin at Monza on April 6-7.

For more information on AV Formula, please visit www.avformula.com.

Photo by Paolo Pellegrini.

Fresh off the back of the final round of the Formula Renault 3.5 Series, Carlin’s race winning team remain in Barcelona for two days of official testing at the Circuit de Catalunya. Joining the team will be 2012 British Formula Three International Series team mates Jazeman Jaafar and Carlos Sainz Jnr. Both drivers had a strong year in the junior category with Vice Champion Jaafar coming close to clinching the title during the final round of the season.

The past season has seen the team tackle the challenges of a brand new car with two rookies at the helm in the form of Kevin Magnussen and Will Stevens. Carlin now look ahead to this week’s first post-season test in Barcelona just days after the conclusion of the 2012
Formula Renault 3.5 Series, where both Carlin drivers took strong points in Saturday and Sunday’s races.

Malaysian racer Jaafar spent the 2012 season competing in the British Formula Three International Series where a strong year – which saw him take three British F3 wins and 15 podiums – ensured that he finished as Vice Champion. Going into the final weekend Jaafar was still in with a shot at winning the title however after three close fought races he missed out by just 13 points to his Carlin team mate Jack Harvey. Jaafar has tested the previous generation of World Series machinery however this will be his first taste of the new generation Formula Renault 3.5 car.

Having also competed in British F3, Carlos Sainz’s race packed year has seen him eligible for points in a total of three championships. Sainz spent the year combining his British F3 programme alongside the F3 EuroSeries and the FIA European Formula Three Championship – taking podiums in all three championships along the way. However tough competition and bad luck during the races led to a difficult year for the Red Bull Junior. This will also mark Sainz’s first time testing the more powerful new generation FR3.5 car.

Looking ahead to testing the car, Jafaar said ‘I’m really looking forward to driving the new car, I’ve tested the old generation Formula Renault 3.5 car and I’ve heard a lot of good things about it. The car has a lot more power and downforce than the previous one and even more so than the British Formula Three car.

‘I’m looking forward to continuing with a team where it feels as though I’m testing with family.’

Sainz Jnr added, ‘It’s going to be great to test such a fast car for the first time. I’ve spent the year working with the team so I know how well they work together. It’s my home track and I’m in a great car so what more could I want? I’m going to enjoy the test but most of all learn as much as I can.’

Arthur PicArthur Pic endured a frustrating home Formula Renault 3.5 event at Paul Ricard last weekend (29/30 September) as the youngster’s highly competitive qualifying pace ultimately went unrewarded.

Friday practice saw Pic kick-off the weekend impressively with P2 in the opening session, but with conditions remaining dry throughout, the arrival of rain on Saturday made qualifying a tricky learning curve. Pic dealt with this impressively however, taking eighth on the grid and lapping on the pace of his front-running rivals.

Unfortunately he would be unable to demonstrate this speed in the race. With the circuit still wet the opening tour became a lottery and Pic suffered a collision with Sam Bird that would end his chances on lap one.

Determined to make amends, Pic produced an excellent lap in Sunday’s second qualifying session to seal sixth on the grid. Circulating just a few tenths shy of a spot on the front row, the DAMS driver was left feeling even more was possible as a red flag late in the session prevented him from improving his time.

Sunday afternoon’s race saw rain once again fall on the Le Castellet venue and, on a wet track, Pic struggled for traction off the line. Slipping down the order as the cars headed into turn one, he soon ducked into the pits for his mandatory stop, hoping to climb back through the pack on an alternate strategy. Though successful at first, the extended stint saw Pic’s tyres wear out late in the race to leave him 14th at the chequered flag.

Arthur Pic: “Saturday’s qualifying was very tricky but I managed P8. It was a bit of a journey into the unknown as we didn’t get any running in the wet before the session. Still, we were amongst the quick guys, so that was positive. I got a good start in the race but then made contact with Sam Bird at turn three. We had a bit of a misunderstanding, but it’s always a lottery in those conditions.

“On Sunday we qualified in the dry so I was a bit more confident. The car was good and I managed to secure P6 but, like several others, my session was compromised by the red flag at the end. The race was wet and I had a bad start. I tried an early pit-stop, but my tyres were too worn during the latter stages to allow me to fight for position.

“On a dry weekend we could have scored a lot of points but in these conditions myself and the car are not yet where we would like to be so we will keep working on this. Now we can focus on Barcelona, a track that everyone knows very well. I hope that the weather there will be on our side and we can finish the season on a high.”

The Frenchman will be hoping for better luck during next month’s season-closing event at Spain’s Circuit de Catalunya (October 20/21) where he will look to secure a place in the ultra competitive championship’s top-five. Following a campaign that has seen Pic claim his maiden Formula Renault 3.5 pole position and race victory, a strong final round would be the perfect swansong to 2012.

For more information on Arthur Pic, please visit www.arthurpic.com

Photo by Dutch Photo Agency.

Alexander RossiThe Formula Renault 3.5 Series moved to Paul Ricard in France this weekend for the penultimate weekend of the 2012 championship. Alexander Rossi was in action with the Arden Caterham team, returning to the circuit on which he scored a race win in the series last year. This year proved difficult for the 21-year-old as he was hit on the opening lap of both races and suffered a problem in the pits in race two, which prevented his chances of a good race finish after two strong qualifying results.

Drivers headed out on Friday morning for the first of the weekend’s running in first practice. Alexander was immediately on the pace, setting the third fastest time. In a strong session during which he completed 15 laps of testing, he set his fastest lap in the dying moments to finish third fastest. In the afternoon’s second practice, Alexander flew to the top of the timesheets ten minutes into the session. He improved on his time several times throughout and hit the top spot again ten minutes from the end. He finished the session second quickest behind Kevin Magnussen.

Qualifying on Saturday morning was a wet affair after rain and thunderstorms hit the track before the session. It was a fast paced session with constantly changing positions as lap times dropped throughout as the track improved, until times dropped off towards the end as standing water cleared and the track became greasy. Alexander demonstrated strong pace by setting a fastest lap of 2:10.307 to line up on the third row of the grid from sixth for the afternoon’s race.

The race was also held in wet conditions. Alexander made a great start, fighting for third into the first corner. Unfortunately, he was hit from behind and the contact caused a left rear puncture. He was forced into the pits and emerged still on the lead lap, albeit at the back and well over a minute behind his nearest competitor. From thereon Alexander displayed great speed and, by the chequered flag after 21 laps, had closed to within 4.4s of Yann Cunha, who was racing ahead of him. He finished in 22nd position but recorded the fastest lap of the race by seventh tenths of a second.

Sunday’s second qualifying was held in dry conditions and Alexander was immediately on the pace. He hit the top spot ten minutes into the session and at the halfway point was third fastest. With all drivers on fresh rubber for the final seven minutes, lap times tumbled. Alex had made his way to fifth with a lap of 1:48.386, just under three tenths off pole, when there was a red flag 30 seconds before the end after Kevin Korjus stopped on track. With the session not restarted, Alex set himself up on the third row behind Jules Bianchi, Sam Bird, Nico Muller and Kevin Magnussen.

Starting on a wet track, Alexander made a solid start in race two, but was then tapped from behind into a spin on the first corner. He was able to continue but found himself in 25th spot. He set about moving up the grid and was in 13th by the time he made his compulsory pitstop on lap 11. Unfortunately in the pits he suffered a sticking front wheel, which extended his stop by around 15 seconds. Once all stops were complete, Alexander was in 16th place, demonstrating his speed, and crossed the line after 21 laps in that position.

Alexander Rossi: “This has been a tough season and this weekend was another dose of back luck, this time in the race versus qualifying in Hungary. It was great to show quick pace in all sessions over the weekend, as we knew the car was good enough to be at the front. Arden Caterham have done a great job with the car and the pace is there now, but being hit in turn one from third in both races this weekend did not allow us to translate that into a result. It’s really frustrating but we just have to go to Barcelona knowing that we have a good car and the lap time is there.”

Julian Rouse, Arden Caterham Team Manager: “It’s been a tough weekend for Alexander. Again following on from Hungary, he’s done a fantastic job all weekend and his speed has been really good in the wet and dry conditions in every session. But due to some really bad luck in both races on the opening laps meant that he was unable to capitalise on the speed that he has shown all weekend. However, we are positive going into Barcelona as the car seems to be consistently quick in all conditions and so, if the opportunity arises, Alexander will no doubt have a strong race weekend.”