The Banbury-based outfit made the journey out to the United Arab Emirates 13.5 points behind JD Motorsport in the standings, with the clear objective of bringing home the bronze with a strong showing to round out the campaign.
Good pace in practice translated into a strong qualifying performance, with all three cars in the top ten for the championships first-ever night race; Sebastian Fernandez took fifth, with Frank Bird and Patrik Pasma ninth and tenth respectively.
An unlucky gearbox issue for Bird forced him to start from the pit lane, with Pasma inheriting ninth at the start. Fernandez dropped back to sixth behind Maini at the start but fought back well, re-claiming the position into Turn 11 with just under ten minutes to run.
Pasma continued to fight through to register seventh at the chequered flag, with Bird eventually an unfortunate 17th after clearly demonstrating top-ten pace.
Fernandez and Pasma would repeat their podium-scoring exploits in the afternoon sun the following day in seventh and eighth; Bird was again the victim of bad luck, running well until contact at the Turn 6 Hairpin pitched him round – the Brit would end the season 15th.
Their combined efforts were enough to secure third overall, the margin at the end 15.5 points over JD.
The team’s focus has already begun for 2020, with a crop of the next generation of Arden stars taking part in the usual post-season Rookie Test at Yas Marina.
Ben Salter, Arden Formula Renault Team Manager said:
“I’m really proud of the entire team for their performance this season. To secure third is fantastic and we’ve been pushing towards that goal for the last few meetings, credit to all the drivers, mechanics, engineers – everybody who makes this happen.
“Whilst it would have been nice to end the season with some silverware, we can take plenty of positives forward from the weekend. It’s a fantastic circuit with some tremendous challenges and I think we rose to them well.
“Now the focus switches to 2020 and the post-season Rookie Test; I’m looking forward to seeing how the drivers fare and then we’ll start building for a full assault on the championship next season.”
Patrik Pasma (#31) said:
“That’s Abu Dhabi done and another double top-eight finish. It’s not really how we wanted to finish the season, but we didn’t have the pace to fight for the podium.
“I’d never driven on the GP track, so it was a nice experience. I think we maximised the points that were available with the pace that we did, and managed to secure third overall in the Teams’ Championship.”
Frank Bird (#32) said:
“It’s been a weekend that has summed up my season, really. I had two good qualifying sessions, but suffered a gearbox issue on the grid for Race 1 and in Race 2 was sitting in a good position until a driver came from nowhere and crashed into me.
“A really disappointing way to end the season, but thanks to all the team, my engineer Jack and mechanic Kieron for all their hard work this year, as well as my sponsors and my family. On to next year!”
Sebastian Fernandez (#33) said:
“The weekend was good overall, we managed to always be in the top five with our pace apart from an unfortunate turbo pipe problem that affected our Q2 position. Our race pace was also strong, so it was a bit of a shame that we could not get into podium positions where we could have been.
“Still, it was some good points for the team and we managed to end up P3 in the championship.”