BWT Arden were narrowly denied a return to points-scoring form in the FIA Formula 2 Championship double-header at Sochi Autodrom, Russia, last weekend [28-29 September].
The Banbury-based outfit headed East with new addition Artem Markelov alongside regular driver Tatiana Calderon aiming to build on solid progress achieved last time out at Monza.
Hydraulic issues on both BWT-backed cars in free practice limited the team’s running, with a knock-on effect for qualifying; Artem managed just 16th and Tatiana 18th under difficult circumstances.
The Russian put in a superlative drive on home soil to make progress in the opening contest, charging through to the lower reaches of the top ten before contact with a competitor put Markelov on the sidelines.
Tatiana also turned out a strong performance, moving through to 15th as the Alfa Romeo F1 Test Driver continues to edge towards breaking into the top ten.
Sunday’s Sprint Race marked the team’s return to the points, Markelov charging through from last on the grid to ninth on the opening tour of the 3.36-mile circuit.
A red-flag halted the race temporarily; Markelov would eventually finish tenth, narrowly missing out on registering a point for Arden on his debut weekend.
Calderon rounded out the weekend in 16th despite a lack of grip, with both drivers now keen to re-group and build towards the season finale in Yas Marina, Abu Dhabi on 29 November – 01 December.
Kenny Kirwan, BWT Arden Team Manager said:
“We had a difficult start to the weekend in that we were compromised by hydraulic issues on both cars in free practice, which limited our running heading into qualifying.
“The team did a great job to fix the issues in between sessions. The opening race ended far too early for Artem after contact from another competitor; Tatiana showed real progress by finishing 15th and with strong pace towards the end.
“Artem made great progress in the opening laps and eventually finished tenth, Tatiana did a great job but ultimately struggled to match her pace from the first race on the Prime tyres.
“We will use the break to analyse everything and come back even stronger for Abu Dhabi.”
Tatiana Calderon (#18) said:
“Overall, it’s been a difficult weekend. We had a few issues in free practice so we could only complete three laps, then going into qualifying we knew it was going to be difficult to get a reference back with the Super Soft compound, so that meant we only had one lap to put everything together.
“It was quite difficult, though I was happy we got closer to the pace than we have been in previous rounds.
“We made a late strategy call to come into the pits in the race and we lost quite a lot of time in the stop, we had a few issues coming out of the pits. That’s unfortunate because I think we had really good pace at the end of the race and I was feeling really comfortable with the car.
“After the red flag in race two I’m thankful nobody got hurt. We just didn’t have the pace or the grip to keep up in the places we were in and to fight the other people, so we need to analyse that and hopefully come back stronger in the last race of the season.
“We have a big break so I’m looking forward to having a few days off and then to analyse what happened between races one and two to understand and hopefully learn from it.”
Artem Markelov (#22) said:
“We had some technical problems with the car in free practice which meant we only managed one push lap, which ultimately wasn’t enough track time for a good result in qualifying.
“Having started the Feature Race in 16th, within a few corners I was fighting to break into the top ten, but contact from another car destroyed our race by breaking my front-left wheel. That also meant we’d have to start the Sprint Race right from the back in 20th!”
“I made a good start and within three corners I was already up to ninth! Then came the red flag; ultimately we finished tenth.
“It wasn’t a bad weekend, we understood a lot about the new car and I’m looking forward to a better result in Abu Dhabi!”