Just a week after the previous round at the Nürburgring, Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup was back in action at Hockenheim, Germany for Round 9; Races 17-18 of the 2018 Championship.
Qualifying saw Piastri head the Arden charge by setting the 3rd fastest time in Group A, meaning he would start from 5th on the grid in Race 1 of the weekend.
Teammates Sami Taoufik and Nikita Volegov would set the 8th and 13th best times in their sessions respectively – lining up 15th and 26th on the grid.
Piastri made a great start from 5th to get a good run into Turn 2 – where he sent a bold move around the outside of two of the Renault Sport Academy Drivers; Christian Lundgaard and Victor Martins, moving himself up to 3rd position as they headed down the main straight for the first time.
The Australian was then attacking Josef Kaufmann Racing’s Yifei Ye for 2nd at the hairpin, but held 3rd as the pack began to sort themselves out over the hectic first lap.
At the end of the opening lap, Taoufik had made good progress up to 11th and knocking on the door of points. He went for a move up the inside of one of the Tech 1 Racing cars – who squeezed him and caused contact with the Moroccan driver – dropping him down the order.
Teammate Volegov moved up to 19th in the early stages and was making progress as well, as the drivers settled into the 30-minute race.
The top-4 drivers began to break away into a race of their own out-front, with Piastri holding 3rd well throughout the race distance – just before the Safety Car was deployed with 5 minutes of the race complete.
The race got back underway with Taoufik immediately making progress back up to 13th, Volegov moved into 18th, as Piastri went side-by-side with Neil Verhagen for 3rd at the hairpin. Their battle raged for four corners, before Piastri completed the move around the outside on the entrance to the Stadium section to retake 3rd position.
Taoufik endured numerous battles in the midfield, running as high as 12th before being shuffled back to 19th in the closing stages with a damaged front wing following an on-track incident blighting his pace. Volegov on the other hand was continuing to make great progress, passing his teammate and avoiding the numerous incidents on track to move just outside the points.
Piastri crossed the line a fantastic 3rd at the chequered flag, banking his second podium of the season – as well as taking the Rookie victory. Volegov’s drive saw him finish 13th, making brilliant progress from his starting position – as teammate Taoufik finished 19th at the end of Race 1.
Qualifying 2 for the second race of the weekend saw Piastri once again line up 5th on the grid, with Volgegov 22nd on the grid and Taoufik 26th.
The second race got underway with Piastri swooping into 4th on the exit of Turn 1 before the big run-down into the hairpin.
At the end of Lap 1 Piastri was up to 4th, Taoufik 20th and Volegov 21st as all of the Arden trio made good progress at the start of the race.
Ten-minutes into the race and Taoufik was continuing to make progress as he moved up to 16th position, with Volegov also gaining a position to move into 20th, just before the Safety Car was deployed with 15-minutes to go.
On the restart, Logan Sargeant went up the inside of Piastri for 4th at Turn 2, before Piastri got him back on the insde at the hairpin. This would become 2nd as Ye went wide at the hairpin and then Championship Leader Christian Lundgaard suddenly slowed, moving Piastri into the podium places.
Into the closing stages, Taoufik had now moved within touching distance of the points in 11th position, with Volegov now up to 17th in the order as the race reached the business end.
Piastri was closing on leader Max Fewtrell for the lead, getting the gap to under one-second in the closing minutes of the race in his challenge for his maiden Eurocup win.
The Australian Rookie ran out of laps to pass Fewtrell, holding 2nd position to the chequered flag, sealing his best result of the season, his second podium of the weekend and second Rookie victory in a row following his great performance.
Taoufik completed a strong recovery drive to finish in 12th position, with Volegov rounding out the Arden runners in 24th, after a late race retirement saw him miss out on a Top-15 finish.
The final round of the 2018 Formula Renault Eurocup championship will take place at the Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona on the 20-21 October, for the final two races of the season.
Photographs: Dutch Photo Agency