GP3 were first the hit the track on Friday, having to content with incredibly dusty track conditions at the start of the sole Free Practice session. The track rubbered in over the course of the session, as Arden drivers Gabriel Aubry, Joey Mawson and Sacha Fenestraz finished the session in 3rd, 5th and 6th fastest respectively.
This gave plenty of promise heading into Qualifying later on Friday. The track temperature increased dramatically from this morning, changing the tyre behaviour over the course of a lap. This created a difficult session for the team, as Aubry was the lead Arden in 16th on grid, Fenestraz 18th fastest and Mawson 20th on the grid following issues.
Race One took place just after midday on Saturday, with hot track temperatures once again affecting the 5.554km Yas Marina Circuit.
In what was possibly a championship deciding race, tensions were high heading into the first race of the weekend.
The race from the start would be dominated by tyre management and the balancing act between attack and preservation.
Aubry and Fenestraz both managed to gain ground throughout the race, while Mawson was plagued by bad luck in a tough opening race of the weekend. The Arden trio finished the 18-lap race in 15th, 16th and 20th positions respectively.
Race two saw the drivers start from the positions they finished in Race one. The opening lap saw multiple collisions throughout the pack! Surviving the chaos around them, Mawson made a fantastic start to lead forward onto the fringes of the top 10, with Aubry and Fenestraz also making ground on their starting positions – as a Virtual Safety Car period was called while marshals recovered the stricken cars.
When racing resumed, Mawson continued his charge through the field – using DRS strategically to move up the order over the coming laps, reaching the Top 10 by half distance. His two teammates were also gaining ground, as battles throughout the pack began to emerge in an exciting race to behold.
Into the closing stages, tyre life became the main factor, as the driver’s battled for position and to keep life in their Pirelli rubber. Mawson came through from 20th on the grid to a brilliant 9th at the chequered flag, just denied points to end the season after a great recovery drive.
Aubry finished in 14th, just 0.3s off 13th at the finish line. Fenestraz rounded out the Arden drivers in 15th position, as the final ever GP3 Series race reached its conclusion.
Arden will bow out of the series at the end of this year, having been one of the founding teams in the series. Since 2010, the team has been the second most successful team in the series.
The team’s success includes winning the 2012 and 2013 Driver’s Championship with Mitch Evans and Danil Kvyat respectively, as well as becoming Team Vice-Champions on four occasions in their history.