Once again ART Grand Prix are the team to beat in the GP3 Series with all four of their drivers heading the championship standings.
Despite the French team being as dominant as ever the team has been plagued by reliability issues which have cost Jack Aitken, Nirei Fukuzumi and George Russell points at the Circuit de Catalunya, Silverstone and the Hungaroring.
The team has been suffering a recurring sensor issue which resulted in Aitken’s retirement from the Feature Race in Spain, Fukuzumi in Britain and caused championship leader Russell unable to take the start in the Hungarian Feature Race.
Russell, a Mercedes Junior driver, was given the opportunity to drive the W08 at the Hungaroring during the Formula One in-season test and was philosophical on reflection about the issue in Hungary that prevented him from lining alongside Aitken – allowing his fellow Briton to dominate the race from pole.
“It’s a bit disappointing but my championship rivals have been caught out [too] so we’re kind of on an even, level playing field now with a mechanical failure each,” he explained to Autosport.
“If we have no more unlucky moments I still have full confidence that we can continue with the job – myself and the team are working pretty well together.
“So long as we keep trying to put it on the front row – on pole – it’s all we can do.”
Heading into the second half of the season Aitken is hopeful the reliability issues that have been plaguing the team will no longer affect them.
“Now hopefully if we have a clean run for the rest of the year it’ll be something more of a fight,” he said.
“I think the tracks coming up will suit me so I’m confident.”
The remaining tracks in the championship are Spa-Francorchamps, Monza, Jerez de la Frontera and Yas Marina.
Heading into the round at the Hungaroring, Aitken had a 40-point deficit to Russell but cut that down to just nine following his pole and win on the Saturday – benefiting from Russell’s non-start.
Neither scored any points in the Sprint Race after a puncture for Aitken resulting in the pair coming together – ending his race and taking Russell out of the points.
Team boss Sebastien Philippe is keen for the return of the sensor problems to not happen in the remaining four rounds.
“Definitely we will push to put new sensors on all four cars for the future.”
Philippe has reason to be happy with all four of drivers on top in the championship, covered by just 20 points but believes the close intra-team battle will not be an issue.
“It’s always good to have the four of them fighting for the championship,” he said.
“I’ve never given any order to my drivers. I will not start from now.
“I just need to be sure that they respect each other and don’t do stupid things.
“It’s better to have four drivers fighting than no one, so I will not complain.”