August 1, 2016 in 2016 GP2 Series
Arthur Pic secured his first podium finish of the year with a pair of stunning drives at the seventh round of the 2016 GP2 Series at Hockenheim (July 30/31).
Lining up fifth for the partially-reversed Sprint Race grid on Sunday, Pic was lucky to survive being forced onto the grass on the run to the first corner by a slow-starting rival, who would be penalised for the move afterwards, and showed great composure to settle into a strong early rhythm.
Cleverly biding his time and managing his tyres effectively in sixth spot, the 24-year-old Frenchman saved his attack until the closing stages, when other drivers began to struggle on their rubber.
Promoted to fifth thanks to an incident ahead, Pic overtook his Rapax team-mate Gustav Malja for fourth with three laps to go and then snatched third with a perfectly-judged move at the Turn 6 hairpin.
Pic’s fantastic podium spot marked the first rostrum finish for the Rapax team of 2016 and was the icing on the cake for the driver following an equally terrific performance the previous afternoon.
Having experienced set-up issues that limited him to 17th on the Feature Race grid, Pic climbed four places by the time he made his mandatory tyre change at one-third distance, twice dealing well with virtual safety cars neutralising the race.
Removing the soft-compound Pirellis and switching to the favoured medium rubber proved a masterstroke and the GP2 race winner put all his experience to good use, managing his rubber brilliantly to undercut several rivals and climb into the top 10.
A number of decisive late-race moves brought him to sixth place by the chequered flag while a time penalty for Alex Lynn and a race disqualification for Pierre Gasly helped to move Pic up to fourth in the final classification.
Pic’s haul of 22 points was his highest total from any GP2 round in 2016.
“Qualifying didn’t go well at all, we tried something on the car and it didn’t work, but that’s just how things go sometimes,” Pic said.
“I made a solid start in Race One and gained a few positions and the pace felt good. We definitely chose the right strategy by stopping on lap 10, my speed at that stage was great and we climbed up to seventh. Then towards the end of the race I was able to get past Antonio Giovinazzi and Oliver Rowland, but Pierre Gasly was on fresher tyres and got past me so I finished sixth.
“I already knew about Alex Lynn’s penalty, but then Gasly got disqualified after the race so I made up another two positions to be classified as fourth, which I’m very pleased with.
“I made a good start from fifth in Race Two, but was pushed onto the grass on the entry to the first corner so I lost a bit of time. I chose not to push at the start to save my pace for the end and it worked really well, as I got past a couple of cars in the closing stages to claim my first podium of the year.
“It was the first weekend where we scored big points (22) which is great, especially after qualifying. It is great for the remaining races. I can go on holiday with a rested mind.
“We have had good pace since the start of the season, but then it always depends on the incidents and the strategy, and sometimes a bit of luck.
“We need to improve what we are missing in qualifying, to start higher up the grid for the Feature Race.
“I’m looking forward to a three-week break, going on holiday to recharge the batteries after non-stop racing since Baku, it was quite intense.”
When the summer break ends Pic and the GP2 Series will be heading to Spa-Francorchamps in support of the Belgian Grand Prix on August 26-28.