• 14th to sixth in feature race, followed by P5 in sprint
Another mature performance saw Arthur Pic maintain his excellent start to the 2014 GP2 Series campaign around the streets of Monte Carlo this weekend (May 22-24) where sixth and fifth place finishes helped the Frenchman consolidate his leading rookie status after three rounds.
The Campos Racing driver has produced a number of stunning comebacks already this season, and he was at it again during Friday’s feature race after keeping his cool amongst the carnage to charge from 14th on the grid to finish sixth.
Following an early Safety Car period, Pic chose to make his mandatory tyre stop on lap six just as the pit window opened. But only a couple of laps later Rene Binder and André Negrao’s coming together at the Hotel hairpin caused a traffic jam that forced the race to be stopped.
Arthur was in hot pursuit of both drivers just before their incident, and actually ended up bending his car’s left-rear wishbone when attempting to slip past. Fortunately he was able to make it back to the start/finish line where the field re-assembled to take the re-start.
Once racing resumed, Arthur appeared unaffected by the damage and was able to pull off a tenacious move on Adrian Quaife-Hobbs as the pair exited the tunnel. Indeed, the pass would prove crucial to ensuring his strategy wasn’t compromised later on, even if a subsequent Safety Car period threatened to create an unpredictable end to the race. Fortunately Pic kept his cool to claim sixth position and, importantly, a favourable reverse grid slot for Saturday’s sprint race.
But having lined up third, excessive wheelspin at the start saw Arthur immediately lose a position and then fight Felipe Nasr on the run into Sainte Dévote. With so little space, it was inevitable that contact would be made – the Brazilian clipped the Campos car’s front wing – which allowed Johnny Cecotto to overtake both at the top of the hill leading to Casino Square. Two corners later Nasr skidded into the access road at Mirabeau, gifting Pic fifth.
He would then spend the next 29 laps glued to Cecotto’s gearbox, putting the GP2 veteran under enormous pressure while also keeping an eye on Mitch Evans behind. Arthur was clearly much faster than the Venezuelan ahead but ultimately, and wisely, elected to settle for fifth and secure another healthy points haul instead of attempting a potentially clumsy manoeuvre around such an unforgiving circuit.
“There’s a pattern emerging to my GP2 weekends, but in a good way obviously!” explained Pic. “I’m delighted to have secured another double points finish, especially at such a demanding circuit like Monaco. We did suffer again in qualifying though, but will pore over the data next week at the team’s factory to understand why we couldn’t find the performance during the session.
“Race one was pretty chaotic with a couple of Safety Car periods and the red flag. The incident that triggered it actually happened right in front of me, so I was caught up in the traffic jam and had to reverse to get out. I have never experienced that kind of race before in my career!
“The car was on the pace in race trim, even though my left-rear tyre was pretty worn out by the end because of the bent wishbone,” he continued. “On Saturday, I lost a couple of positions on the opening lap and spent the next 29 shadowing Cecotto. I was quicker than him but Johnny defended really well. I never had a clear shot at overtaking him and didn’t want to try anything foolish, so preferred settling for fifth.
“Of course, I am a little bit frustrated by the fact I haven’t finished on the podium yet, but I’m remaining upbeat because we achieved the target I set for myself; scoring valuable championship points again.”
Arthur will look to extend his impressive run of points finishes when the GP2 Series visits the Red Bull Ring in Austria for round four on June 20-22.
GP2 Series Drivers’ Championship (after three rounds)
1. Jolyon Palmer DAMS 103 points
2. Felipe Nasr Carlin 57
3. Johnny Cecotto Trident 49
4. Julian Leal Carlin 48
5. Arthur Pic Campos Racing 40
6. Stéphane Richelmi DAMS 32
GP2 Series Teams’ Championship (after three rounds)
1. DAMS 103 points
2. Carlin 57
3. Trident 49
4. Campos Racing 40
5. ART Grand Prix 33
For more information on Arthur Pic please visit www.arthurpic.com