ART Grand Prix boss Sébastien Phillipe believes the team had the pace to compete more closely with runners-up Jack Doohan and Clément Novalak, saying that mistakes and mechanical issues cost them a higher finish, but he also admitted that Champion Dennis Hauger was out of reach.
ART Finished third in the Teams’ Championship, behind PREMA Racing and Trident, while drivers Frederik Vesti and Alex Smolyar finished in fourth and sixth, taking nine podiums, including three wins between them.
“Unfortunately, we had a few issues during the season that didn't help,” said Phillipe. “I think that regarding Hauger, we couldn't challenge him because we didn't have the pace that he did all year.
“In terms of those who finished below Hauger, it was more down to some mechanical issues that we had, and some mistakes that we made, but in terms of performance, we were able to challenge everyone other than Hauger.
“Dennis Hauger didn’t make any mistakes and was there to score big points every time. That made things quite challenging, but we should have been able to do better than we did. The target at the beginning of the year wasn't to finish where we did, but that’s the way it went.”
Alongside Champions Trident, ART were one of just two teams to take at least 20 points in every single round - a feat that even PREMA didn’t achieve – but finished the campaign more than 100 points off both outfits, in third.
“We had some circuits where our performance was quite good, like Le Castellet, the Red Bull Ring and Sochi, but in Le Castellet, we had an issue in Race 1 that destroyed our races on the Saturday. Then it rained on the Sunday, and we couldn't show the potential that we had in dry conditions.
“Generally, I don't think we were too bad, except for one or two places. We struggled to score big points when we were able to do so, though.”
As frustrated as Phillipe and his team are with the 2021 campaign, they still finished with more points than in both 2019 and 2020. They’ve also got a car they know is quick, so plenty to build on.
“You can always do a better job,” he continued. “At some points, we could have been more aggressive, but I think that both Fred (Vesti) and Alex (Smolyar) were up there. We were just lacking consistency on some occasions.
“There are different areas for us to improve, like all teams. Of course, we’ll look at performance, but also preventing issues like the ones from this year that cost us a lot. We want to avoid mechanical issues and sporting mistakes, and we will learn from the little issues that we had this year. We'll keep working day to day to continue improving.”