Arden Motorsport continued their strong form in the Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine with another set of front-running finishes on the streets of Monte-Carlo, Monaco last weekend (22-23 May).
The Banbury team headed to the famous Principality in buoyant mood after a strong start to the 2021 campaign, first at Imola and then Barcelona, with all three drivers – Alex Quinn, William Alatalo and Nicola Marinangeli – looking ahead to another strong weekend at the series’ blue-riband event.
A split qualifying format to accommodate the capacity 32-car field at Monaco meant the trio qualified for third, fifth and twelfth row starting slots, a conventional qualifying system combined with their pace on the day would have secured higher starting positions. Just another quirk associated with this iconic venue.
The tight, twisty streets of Monte-Carlo are famed for their lack of overtaking opportunities, and that showed in the opening race.
Both Quinn and Alatalo had to settle for solid points in sixth and eighth respectively, but after a positive start, Marinangeli fell victim to contact from another driver at the Nouvelle Chicane, which put him out of the race.
The Italian’s luck did not improve on Sunday; a chain reaction caused by team-mate Alatalo being tagged twice in quick succession through Sainte Devote, the latter of which pitched him into a half-spin in front of the pack, caused the field to bottleneck and a big hit from behind sent Marinangeli’s car up and over.
Although he was unharmed in the incident, the damage proved too extensive to repair in the short red flag period, ending his weekend early.
When the race resumed, Quinn was able to put the pressure on for the final podium spot, but ultimately took the chequered flag in fourth. Damage to Alatalo’s car hampered his progress and he could only manage 14th.
A poor weekend for the championship leaders meant, despite all the trials and tribulations, Quinn actually closed in on the points summit across the double-header and now sits fourth outright, 17 points back from the lead.
Arden slip to fourth in the Teams Championship, but maintain a near-100 point gap back to the next-placed team and sit within striking range of re-claiming their top-three spot.
It’s a quick turnaround before the next event, which takes place at Circuit Paul Ricard in Le Castellet, France this weekend (29-30 May).
Ben Salter, Arden Formula Regional Team Manager said:
“This weekend has certainly been character-building for the entire team. Our pace wasn’t quite there, but we were certainly victims of some bad luck too.
“That said, we can’t be displeased with the end result, given the circumstances. Alex’s solid points haul has actually thrown him back into the championship fight after some of the other front-runners hit trouble, and William was able to add to our Teams Championship total in the opening race.
“If Nicola didn’t have bad luck this weekend, he’d have had no luck at all. Contact from other cars in both races put him out, so he didn’t really have much of an opportunity to build across the weekend.
“That said, we’re off to Paul Ricard next, which was a good circuit for us in pre-season, so the focus now is very much on a quick turnaround and then bouncing back.”
William Alatalo (#8) said:
“It was definitely a really hard weekend in Monaco. In practice I didn’t have any clean laps. We went to qualifying unprepared, but still I managed to be fourth in my own group, and maintained my position in the opening race, but it’s very difficult to overtake in Monaco.
“I started the second race seventh but dropped to P14 after a crash at Turn 2. After the restart, we couldn’t make any progress and that was it. Overall, a frustrating weekend in Monaco.”
Nicola Marinangeli (#14) said:
“I immediately had quite good pace, but unfortunately in qualifying I found traffic on my best lap.
“In Race 1 the pace was good, faster than the car In front but in the middle of the race I was hit at the chicane and that ended my race
“Race 2 I was involved in a no-fault accident that ended my race.”
Alex Quinn (#21) said:
“The weekend started well with strong pace in free practice and qualifying.
“The qualifying format put us slightly further back on the grid than we should have been, and from there it’s really difficult to overtake around Monaco.
“I’m satisfied with a solid points haul, we picked up two good results and closed back in on the championship lead, but next weekend in Paul Ricard we need to do better.”