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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.

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.

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.

Arthur PicArthur Pic enjoyed a productive Formula Renault 3.5 weekend at the Hungaroring (15/16 September) as two points-paying finishes for the DAMS driver promoted him to fifth in the championship standings.

Following a stellar recovery drive to fourth at last month’s Silverstone event, the Montélimar native travelled to the Hungarian Grand Prix venue seeking another strong points haul.

He began well with fourth on the grid for Saturday’s opening contest, though with his fastest lap spoiled by yellow flags the 20-year-old was left feeling that a spot on the front-row had been within reach.

Pic was able to hold his position on the dash to turn one despite starting on the right-hand side of the notoriously dusty Hungaroring track. Settling into a rhythm, the DAMS driver fought an entertaining duel for fourth with Antonio Felix da Costa. Though Pic would eventually lose out on the spot he was nevertheless able to chase the Portuguese home and secure a crucial 10 points.

Building on this, Pic delivered a superb qualifying effort in Sunday morning’s session to grab third on the grid, giving him legitimate hopes of challenging for victory come the afternoon’s race.

However, his chances were dealt an unfortunate blow at the start when the pole-man failed to get away directly ahead of him, forcing Pic onto the grass and allowing a number of cars to slip past.

From there the Frenchman would continue to show impressive pace but ultimately had to settle for a sixth place finish, taking the chequered flag just over a second behind championship leader Robin Frijns.

Arthur Pic: “Overall Hungary was a good weekend for us. In race one I got a good start and was running P4 during the early stages. The car was a bit tricky to drive and I made an error that allowed Da Costa past at the end of the pit straight. After that we managed to hold on to P5, but the level of performance we’d hoped for wasn’t quite there.

“On Sunday morning we found a great set-up and qualifying went really well. We were missing that extra something that would have allowed me to take P1, but third was still excellent. Frustratingly the pole-man stalled ahead of me at the start and, though I managed to avoid him, I swerved into the grass and dropped back a few places. I then had a great battle with Frijns and by the closing stages we’d caught Sam Bird. I made a small mistake attacking him and Frijns got through, leaving me sixth at the finish.

“I have some regrets over Sunday’s race as the car was very quick and we had the potential to be on the podium, or perhaps even fight for the win. On the positive side however we scored good points in both races, which is great for the championship.”

Having secured a total of 18 points over the course of the weekend, Pic has vaulted a further championship position to fifth and remains firmly in contention to snatch fourth. The series concludes with trips to the Paul Ricard circuit in his native France (September 29/30) and Spanish Grand Prix venue Circuit de Catalunya (October 20/21).

Formula Renault 3.5 championship standings
1. Robin Frijns – 166 points
2. Jules Bianchi – 142 points
3. Sam Bird – 139 points
4. Marco Sorensen – 101 points
5. Arthur Pic – 94 points
6. Nick Yelloly – 92 points

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

Photo by Dutch Photo Agency.

Arthur PicArthur Pic showed plenty of pace but ultimately left Spa-Francorchamps empty handed following a frustrating Formula Renault 3.5 round in Belgium this weekend.

After his battling drive around Monaco’s city streets seven days ago, the young Frenchman had to display similar combative qualities in the Ardennes after qualifying 10th for Saturday’s race.

Pic wasted little time moving up the order by claiming two positions on the opening lap alone before shadowing and then passing Jake Rosenzweig to claim seventh four laps later.

Such was his pace that it took the DAMS driver just a single lap to erode Carlos Huertas’ 1.5secs advantage and take sixth away from the Colombian.

Next up, but some 4.4secs clear, was Jules Bianchi who saw his gap slashed thanks to the intervention of a safety car. And when racing resumed again on lap 14, it wasn’t long before positions second to sixth were covered by little over one second.

As cars jostled for position, Pic was able to snatch fifth away from Robin Frijns and, with just three laps remaining, had homed in on Kevin Magnussen. But as the pair headed for La Source nose-to-tail, the Dane moved across into Pic’s path, puncturing his left-rear tyre and sending both onto the run-off area.

That saw Pic tumble down the order from a probable hard-fought fourth place finish to 15th overall and an extremely frustrating end to what had been a stunning comeback drive.

While Saturday had remained dry, Sunday brought with it the sort of soaking wet conditions that Spa is famed for.

A problem with his car’s all-important Drag Reduction System (DRS), as well as set-up issues, hampered Pic’s pace during a red-flag interrupted qualifying session that saw him set the 18th fastest time.

So poor were conditions by the afternoon that the race began behind the safety car. When it was finally withdrawn, Pic was amongst the first to make his mandatory pit-stop in the hope of picking up places later in the race. It would have been the correct call but just three laps later, in treacherous conditions, he was powerless to prevent the car from spinning into retirement.

Arthur Pic: “Friday’s free practice sessions went quite well and I had the pace to run in the top five. But we then went the wrong way on set-up for qualifying which is why, in the end, I was happy to line-up in P10. Fortunately I made a good start and gained a few places. The car felt good and I was amongst the fastest out there before the safety car period. It was obviously disappointing therefore to have the incident with Magnussen. I wasn’t trying to overtake him and maintained the racing line when he closed the door. Let’s just say we had a misunderstanding.

“Sunday’s heavy rain meant we had to find a new set-up during qualifying. A problem with the DRS made the situation worse, which explained our low grid position. Because of that we opted for an early pit-stop in the race. It would have been the right strategic call because I re-joined just behind Sam Bird who went on to finish fifth. The car still wasn’t quite right in those tricky conditions and, unfortunately, three laps later I span at Turn 9. It was my fault.

“Before the next round I will be at DAMS’ factory in Le Mans where we will have a proper debrief and try to understand our lack of performance in the rain. We have great dry pace but we are not as competitive as we should be in the wet. It is better to be prepared should that happen again this year.”

Pic will be back behind the wheel when Formula Renault 3.5 continues at the Nurburgring in Germany on June 30-July 1.

Photo by Dutch Photo Agency.