• Soaking Sunday conditions thwart the Frenchman’s chances
Arthur Pic’s season-best qualifying performance went unrewarded during a frustrating sixth GP2 Series round at Hockenheim last weekend (July 18-20) when an oil pressure issue – caused by the hot weather – ended his chances of scoring a first podium in Saturday’s Feature Race.
The conditions then caused further problems for the Frenchman on Sunday when the arrival of rain just before the 45-minute Sprint Race ultimately led to his early retirement after an eye-catching initial fight back.
The Campos Racing driver’s weekend got off to a solid start on Friday morning by demonstrating strong pace throughout both free practice sessions. Despite being unfamiliar with Germany’s Grand Prix venue, Pic then finished sixth during the afternoon’s qualifying session after edging out his stand-in team-mate and GP2 race winner Alexander Rossi.
A good start to Saturday’s Feature Race saw Pic challenge Williams F1 reserve driver Felipe Nasr for fourth heading into Turn 1, before the Brazilian regained his position. Finishing the lap fifth, Arthur was comfortably keeping pace with the frontrunners, despite starting on Pirelli’s yellow-marked soft tyres in the searing hot conditions.
Lap 11 saw Pic make his mandatory stop for the harder medium compound rubber. However, Hockenheim’s punishing heat had taken its toll on Campos’ #26 machine and caused the oil pressure to drop dramatically as Arthur came to a halt inside his pit box. To make matters worse, the issue would cost the Frenchman a minute after his V8 powerplant automatically shut down. Raffaele Marciello – pitting behind Pic – experienced a similar problem at the same moment.
Although able to reclaim a couple of positions thereafter, the delay inevitably saw Arthur tumble down the order and ultimately take the chequered flag 19th. To rub salt into the 22-year-old’s wounds, Mitch Evans had utilised a similar strategy en route to victory, adjusting his own pit-stop procedure after the Kiwi was informed of Pic and Marciello’s mechanical gremlins.
Further bad luck then led to Pic’s retirement on Sunday after a heavy shower prompted a late dash to the garage for radiator cooling adjustments prior to the start. But as he attempted to return to the grid, a red light at the end of the pit-lane forced him stop and line up dead last.
On a sodden circuit, Pic wisely elected to start on wet weather tyres while others gambled on dry rubber. It appeared to pay off as he passed 11 cars in 10 laps, before switching to slicks as a drying racing line began to emerge. But upon exiting the pits Arthur was caught off-guard by Simon Trummer, with the subsequent loss of momentum and cold tyres causing him to spin into early retirement.
“I’m obviously frustrated at missing out on a great opportunity this weekend,” admitted Arthur. “I felt we could challenge for a podium finish on Saturday. We can take slight consolation from the fact Evans was on a similar strategy – yet much further behind us – before the pit window opened. When stopping in the box I should have maintained a higher level of revs, which would have prevented the engine from going into safety mode. After hearing about a similar problem for Marciello, Mitch was able to take the necessary steps during his own pit-stop. But that’s the way motor racing is sometimes.
“However, there’s also lots of good things to focus on from this weekend,” he added. “Our race pace was really strong and I was glad to secure my season’s best result in qualifying, although it’s a shame we couldn’t exploit our potential. With the championship moving straight on to Budapest, I have an opportunity to bounce back and hopefully return to the sharp end.”
Pic will hope to continue moving forward when the GP2 Series visits the Hungaroring this weekend (July 25-27).
For more information on Arthur Pic please visit www.arthurpic.com