The FIA Formula 2 Championship headed to Silverstone for Round 7 and the ‘home’ race event for BWT Arden, with the circuit located just a few miles down the road from their Banbury base.
A completely new track surface at the Northamptonshire track for this weeks’ Grand Prix meant massive evolution in times and grip for the drivers to contend with. This was the focus of the practice session which saw BWT Arden drivers Anthoine Hubert and Tatiana Calderon, set the 16th and 18th fastest times of the session on the Hard compound tyres.
Qualifying on Friday afternoon saw higher track temps and a ramp up in grip as the new surface rubbered in, following the two Formula One Free Practice Sessions. Anthoine hooked up a good lap to move into the top 10 on the grid, as the Renault Sport Academy driver once again maximised running in the ‘gap’ between qualifying runs to bank a solid starting position, as teammate Tatiana set the 19th fastest time with her final lap of the session.
Unusual circuit circumstances mean that practice starts are impossible before the race start – A fact that hit the team hard when extra circuit grip & new clutch components added together to catch out Anthoine at the start of the Feature Race as he stalled on the grid when the lights went out, immediately forcing him into the pits to restart and join the race. albeit now one lap down on his rivals. His race would now become an extended test session to learn more for the future races.
Tatiana by contrast made a good start to make her way up to 16th position.
Tatiana started the race on the Hard compound, her strategy was to run a long first stint in the race. The Columbian was running in 2nd position for much of the race until her pitstop on Lap 21 for the Soft compound tyres.
Tatiana re-joined in 15th position, but with fresh tyres and a lot of pace to exploit to the chequered flag. The race ended with Tatiana finishing in 14th position – gaining 5 from her starting position, whilst Anthoine finished the race in 19th position following his misfortune at the start of the race.
The Sprint Race on Sunday morning saw both BWT Arden drivers make good starts and gain positions early on.
Both continued to make good progress in the early stages of the race to move into 13th & 15th positions respectively, just before the Safety Car was deployed following Guiliano Alesi’s Trident stopping at Woodcote after a collision.
Silverstone’s famous marshalls cleared the car quickly and the Safety Car returned to the pits after just one lap, the race resumed with Anthoine fending off the attack from Sergio Sette Camara.
Tatiana was tagged in a half-spin at Stowe corner, which dropped her down to 17th position – but she importantly managed to keep the engine running and kept in the race. Anthoine managed to force his way past his old GP3 Series rival Nikita Mazepin at half-distance as he continued his pursuit of the top 10.
Anthoine managed to gain another two positions in the latter stages of the race, finishing a strong 11th position, just outside of the points paying positions, with Tatiana surviving the mid-race spin to cross the line in 17th position.
Anthoine Hubert – “A disappointing weekend as it’s our first one with no points. It’s a pity as a small clutch problem ruined our chances to score any… But we know we had potential for another solid weekend and I’m looking forward to Budapest to get back to our positive form!”
Tatiana Calderon – “It has been a difficult weekend to be honest but I think we are still learning about how to make the tyres warm and what I need from the car to be more comfortable. I want to thank the team for their efforts, it was nice to fight a few of the top guys during the first race so I think we are slowly but surely moving forward. I can’t wait for Hungaroring in a couple of weeks and to hopefully finish the next half of the season in a much better way.”
Kenny Kirwan, BWT Arden Team Manager – “A frustrating weekend at our home race given the recent momentum that the team has been carrying over the last number of races. However, we will work on our weaknesses and take encouragement from the positives. We are very much looking forward to the next event at the Hungaroring where I am certain we will be back on form.
FIA Formula 2 now heads into a short break, where it will resume for Round 8 at the Hungaroring Circuit in Budapest, on the 2-4 August.
Photos Courtesy of Dutch Photo Agency