Arden Motorsport brought its 2021 Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine season to a climax with its drivers charging through the pack at Monza
Qualifying showed the intensity of the championship with tenth-placed Alex Quinn heading the Arden fight, less than two-tenths of a second away from pole around the legendary 5.8km Monza autodrome. William Alatalo was also within half a second of pole with Nicola Marinangeli three-tenths behind.
There was added spice before race one, with the risk of rain. The stewards declared it a wet race, meaning it wouldn’t be stopped if rain came, but all drivers chose to start on the Pirelli dry weather slicks. The experienced Arden crew were prepared for pit stops, but their skills weren’t needed as the threat of rain never materialised.
Quinn was the man on the move moving from tenth to eighth in the opening three laps, closely shadowed by Alatalo. Marinangeli had been squeezed onto the grass on the run to the first corner, but this triggered a charging recovery drive. The home driver passed fifteen rivals after his early delay, setting a fastest lap that was quicker than the race winner.
In Sunday’s season finale, the rain impacted qualifying but the track was drying rapidly ahead of the start. With the entire grid selecting slicks, the race started with a single file rolling start behind the safety car.
Quinn and Alatalo provided fans with action in the early stages, the teammates going wheel to wheel through Curva Grande just millimetres apart. Unluckily, Quinn lost another place avoiding a spinning car. A safety car closed the pack up again. On the restart, Marinangeli was forced up the escape road, but the race was red-flagged due to a crash a lap later.
After a long delay, the restart saw the three drivers make it cleanly through turn one, but a dramatic clash between the race leaders saw Marinangeli forced onto the grass and into the wall, cruelly denying the Italian a season-best result at his home circuit.
The race finishing under the safety car meant that Alatalo and Quinn didn’t have the opportunity to make further progress through the field, but the Finn’s progress from 15th to 9th showed what could have been possible.
Ben Salter, Arden Formula Regional Team Manager said:
“It was a spectacular race for fans to watch, but the resulting safety cars and red flags denied our drivers the chance to make further progress. Nevertheless, Alex’s top ten championship finish and William’s fight into the top ten in race two show the pace and promise we can build on for next year.”
William Alatalo (#8) said:
“To pass five drivers in a race with so few racing laps was fun. It was damp offline, but I felt confident in the car to be able to make the moves stick in slippery conditions. We’ve had a strong season with good pace, and I’m ready to build on this for 2022.”
Nicola Marinangeli (#14) said:
“To pass fifteen drivers in race one was thrilling. I was pleased with my fight back after a first-lap delay. In race two, I was targeting a season-best result but had to avoid the drama ahead. I’m glad Beganovic and Vidales are OK, it looked a nasty collision.”
Alex Quinn (#21) said:
“Thanks to Arden for strong support this year. Taking two podiums this year were highlights, and I really hoped to add to that at Monza. We had the potential to be in the top five, but a top ten championship position is a good way to conclude the year. My focus is now on the Aston Martin Autosport BRDC Award. Let’s fight for that and win in 2022!”
Picture credit © Dutch Photo Agency