Qualifying 1 saw all three Arden drivers Oscar Piastri, Sami Taoufik and Nikita Volegov in the same Qualifying Group.
Piastri headed the charge with the 4th fastest time, Volegov set the 9th quickest time and Taoufik set the 12th best time of the session.
This gave the driver’s the positions of 8th, 20th and 24th on the grid for the first race of the weekend.
The three Arden’s were promoted a position when Victor Martins didn’t get away for the Formation Lap. Piastri made a good start on the long run down to Turn 1 – going for the outside and safely navigating the opening sequence of corners. Volegov and Taoufik gained positions at the congested start as the cars came to end of the opening lap, the latter gaining two places in the tight final chicane with a bold opportunistic move.
At the start of Lap 2, Piastri went for a move up the inside of Thomas Maxwell – however the two made contact through Turn 1. Piastri re-joined in 14th position despite the damage. Volegov was also involved in an incident forced to retire from the race, whilst Taoufik avoided the melee to move himself up to 16th position.
The Safety Car was deployed following two cars stranded in the gravel at Turn 1. A dramatic incident under the Safety Car period saw Taoufik pitched out of the race, ruining his strong fight through the field.
After a lengthy stoppage, the race got back underway with 15-minutes to go. Piastri immediately set about coming back through the field, moving up to 12th position over the next four laps and set himself on challenging the top ten.
Heading into the final lap, Piastri was up in 11th and challenging Raoul Guzman for 10th position going into Turn 1. The Australian went for the switchback move through Turn 2, but was cut off by his rival – causing Piastri to contact Guzman’s left rear wheel and ended stranded in the gravel, sadly unravelling his charge.
Qualifying for Race 2 saw the three Arden’s once again in the same Group. Piastri set the 6th fastest time in his group, with Volegov in 11th and Taoufik in 12th.
This meant they would line up in 12th, 22nd and 24th on the grid for Race 2 and the final race of the 2018 season.
Taoufik made a brilliant start in Race 2, making up half a dozen positions around Turns 1-3 to elevate himself up to 17th. Piastri made a safe start, but was baulked in Turn 2 which dropped him down to 14th. Volegov maintained his position at the start. Ten minutes into the race, Piastri had moved himself up to 12th position, likewise Taoufik had made further progress up to 16th, with Volegov moving himself up four positions to 20th.
Around the notoriously difficult track to overtake on, making up ground was difficult, but opportunities began to arise as tyre wear became an effect over the course of the 30-minute race.
Into the closing stages of the race, Piastri was fighting for the top 10, just half-a-second off getting into the points paying positions. Taoufik had gained another place to get into 15th position at the same time. Piastri pulled off a fine last-lap overtake to move himself into 11th position, finishing just 0.6s off a top ten finish.
Taoufik finished the race in a solid 15th after gaining seven positions over the course of the race. Volegov rounded out the Arden runners, finishing 19th at the chequered flag.
At the end of the 2018 Formula Renault season, Piastri finished 8th overall in the championship, with Taoufik and Volegov 22nd and 24th respectively in their maiden season’s in the hugely competitive championship.
The 2019 season will see Formula Renault run under the new Regional F3 regulations, running their own version of the new Tatuus F3 T-318 for next season.
Arden’s lineup for the new season and future announcements relating to 2019 will be made in due course.
Photos: Dutch Photo Agency