BWT Arden were unlucky not to end their time in the FIA Formula 2 Championship on a high note after a disappointing weekend [29 November – 01 December] in Abu Dhabi.
The Banbury-based outfit arrived at the 3.4-mile circuit on Yas Island in the UAE aiming to end over two decades of competition in the primary Formula 1 ® feeder series at the sharp end of the field.
The pace of both Artem Markelov and Tatiana Calderon cemented that goal ahead of qualifying, however a late yellow flag forced both BWT-backed racers to abandon their final flying efforts; Markelov would start the Feature Race 14th, with Calderon 19th.
Both drivers had contrasting fortunes in the opening race; Markelov was forced to retire with an engine related component failure after an early charge into the top ten, whilst Calderon made solid progress to record 16th at the flag.
Unfortunately, a separate unrelated issue for Markelov similarly denied the Russian ace a headline result after some trademark overtakes in the opening exchanges put him on the fringe of the points from the very back.
That put him on the sidelines as Alfa Romeo Formula 1 test driver Calderon closed out a positive year of development in 14th.
The double-header in the desert brought down the curtain on Arden’s stay in the second tier of motorsport, with the team switching focus to its Formula Renault Eurocup and British Formula 4 programmes for 2020.
Kenny Kirwan, BWT Arden Team Manager said:
“It’s not the weekend we were expecting. Artem, as usual, drove two great races but was hampered by technical issues on both occasions.
“The team did a fantastic job in the pit stops and managed to jump two cars during that phase of the Feature Race. Tatiana also continued to make gains and made great progress in both races.”
Tatiana Calderon (#18) said:
“Overall, I’m not that disappointed with the weekend, I think it’s been probably one of the best weekends of the whole season.
“Sadly in qualifying I only did one lap because there were yellow flags on the other that we couldn’t complete. I was going quicker, but that’s racing sometimes.
“So starting from the back, I think we had good pace at the end of the race, we managed to fight with some of the guys on the first lap. I had anti-stall on the way in and we lost quite a few places.
“Then the Sprint Race wasn’t that bad, we had good pace at the start of the race, we were ahead of Nyck De Vries at one point, so that was quite good and then we had quite a lot of degradation so we slowly started to fall [back].
“But I think, overall, I’m quite happy with my performance this weekend and we’ll see what the future holds for us.”
Artem Markelov (#22) said:
“Abu Dhabi has always been a really nice track for me. We had the potential to be up at the front all weekend, but had some technical issues and didn’t finish either of the races.
“However, we stayed strong, took a lot of information from the car and now I’m looking forward to trying some things in post-season testing for next year [with HWA RACELAB].”