Arthur Pic displayed impressive pace throughout last weekend’s Formula Renault 3.5 event in Austria, but the AV Formula driver was left feeling more was possible after a strong run to fifth in Saturday's race was tempered by a troubled second outing on Sunday.
The 21-year-old travelled to former grand prix venue the Red Bull Ring looking to bounce back from a difficult event in Moscow where a damaged chassis severely restricted his pace.
The Frenchman was among the front-runners in Saturday morning's qualifying, eventually delivering a rapid late effort of 1m16.377s to secure P5 on the grid.
He then maintained his cool throughout an incident packed race that was punctuated by two safety car periods, withstanding heavy pressure from Antonio Felix da Costa to seal fifth spot and 10 points in the ultra-competitive championship.
Continuing to run among the pace-setters, Pic qualified seventh for Sunday's second event despite battling issues with a newly-fitted set of brakes. Come the race he produced an excellent start to quickly move into P5, before electing to take his mandatory pit-stop ahead of his competitors.
Unfortunately this would prove to be the wrong call as the stop was made a lap before the pit window opened. The Frenchman maintained his hunt for points when back on track, forming part of a close-fought battle towards the front of the field, but was soon hit with a 20-second post-race penalty for the pit infringement.
To compound his troubles a safety car was deployed when Carlos Huertas spun and stalled at the exit of the final turn. That allowed the chasing pack to close up on Pic, destroying the gap he had worked to build over his rivals. Shortly after racing resumed the Frenchman pulled into the pits to investigate a technical problem, returning to the circuit for the final handful of laps at the rear of the order.
Arthur Pic: "We had a problem with the chassis in Moscow which we solved ahead of this weekend and that allowed us to be back on the pace from the word go.
Saturday qualifying went reasonably well, though I came across traffic on my second run which cost us a place in the top-three. The race wasn't very exciting as I remained in P5 throughout, but the points we scored are important for the championship.
"Sunday was very frustrating. We put new brakes on in the morning and this proved to be an issue all day. Seventh on the grid wasn't too bad given our problems, and I was able to get a good start in the race to jump to P5. Unfortunately the team called me in a lap ahead of the pit window which meant we received a 20-second penalty, all but ending our chances of scoring points.
"There’s now a two-month break ahead of the next race in Hungary so we have plenty of time to focus on improving our performance. It's a circuit that I enjoy and have gone well at before, so we'll be targeting a more consistent weekend there."
Pic will be back in Formula Renault 3.5 action at the Hungarian Grand Prix circuit over the weekend of September 14/15.