ART Grand Prix have typically been one of the strongest teams in the third tier of junior motorsport, but they found consistency hard to come by in the 2019 F3 campaign, despite their unquestionable speed. Following an improved 2020 season, Team Principal Sébastien Phillipe has praised his staff for finding a better match between the two, especially in tough circumstances.

The French outfit have finished third in both campaigns, but they came out of 2020 with one more win, five further podiums and 77 extra points than the year before.

With the season postponed and subsequently squeezed into just 11 weeks, Phillipe was “amazed” by the efforts of his team and the level of improvement shown.

“It was very hard, but I was very happy with the commitment of everyone in my team,” said Phillipe. “Not just my team, but everyone in the Championship. I think that we all had a hard time before the start of the season, and we all had doubts over whether it would be possible to do the whole season.

“From the moment it started, I could see that everyone was really motivated and happy to be here. It was clearly very challenging, especially for the mechanics because it was nonstop for 11 weeks in the middle of the summer. Physically, it was very tough on them, but they continued to work hard all day, even though things were flat out. I am very happy with the way that everybody managed it.

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“2020 was a better season for sure. We showed a bit more consistency than the year before. I think in ‘19, we were able to show some decent pace, but with less consistency, and that was the main difference. Théo (Pourchaire) also helped us to improve a lot on that side of things.”

With Mercedes junior Frederik Vesti, SMP-backed Alex Smolyar and the returning Juan Manuel Correa all already confirmed for the upcoming campaign, Phillipe believes that he has got a line-up which can attack the Championship.

With more downtime between rounds to work with their drivers and on the cars, as well as a degree of stability, Phillipe and his team have got the potential to threaten the dominance of PREMA.

“We are always looking to improve, race by race, year by year,” he said. “The key thing will once again be consistency. In terms of performance, there are a few things we are looking at. We want to be able to provide the drivers with more tools to improve them.

ART have signed Vesti Smolyar and Correa for the 2021 campaign
ART have signed Vesti, Smolyar and Correa for the 2021 campaign

“There is not one specific area that we are looking at. It is about improving everywhere. I am quite optimistic with the driver line-up we have and the staff that we’ve got.

“We will have almost exactly the same staff as last year which is good because we are not starting from scratch and they already understand us. I am quite optimistic that we can fight for both the Teams’ and Drivers’ Championships.”