The revamped Formula Renault Eurocup Championship made its debut at Monza for the first round of the championship, where the Arden team of Sebastian Fernandez, Frank Bird and Patrik Pasma would hit the legendary circuit for the first time in the new Tatuus T318-T car.
Qualifying for the first race saw Frank finish as the lead Arden, setting the 8th fastest time just one position ahead of Sebastian in 9th, with Patrik setting the 15th fastest time for the opening race of the season.
All drivers made a clean start, avoiding the early collision that saw Lorenzo Colombo stranded at the first chicane. A brief Safety Car period followed, before the action got back underway. Sebastian made the most head way early on, latching onto the group of 6 cars battling for the lead in the opening stages – where the slipstream effect played a huge part in overtaking down the main straights.
The three Arden’s ran a clean race, avoiding any collisions – which saw some of their rivals fall foul of over the course of the 30 minute race.
Sebastian finished the race as the highest placed Arden runner in 6th position, with Frank making it a double points score with an 8th place finish. Patrik rounded out the Arden runners in 13th position, but with pace strong enough to score points – boding well for the second race of the weekend on Sunday.
The second qualifying session for Race 2 took place on Sunday morning, taking place on a sodden track following rain overnight – leading to treacherous track conditions.
Qualifying became a Sprint session, following an accident on track which brought out the red flag. This gave only a seven minute window for the drivers to set their best times.
Patrik led the Arden charge in the compromised session with the 10th fastest time of the session, just ahead of Sebastian in 11th and Frank in 14th position in the timesheets on the rain soaked circuit.
Between qualifying and the race, the heaven’s opened further and the track conditions worsened. This required a number of laps behind the Safety Car, before the action got underway for real on Lap 3.
The race got underway with all Arden’s making a clean start and making up ground early on, just before the race was again neutralised following a three-car collision and getting mired in the gravel trap.
At the restart, Patrik was under pressure from R-ace GP driver of Caio Collett – before both drivers soon reeled in the MP Motorsport of Amaury Cordeel as the pack got accustom to the wet conditions.
Sebastian continued to make up ground throughout the race, moving into the points paying positions after dispatching Joao Viera in the closing stages of the race.
As the chequered flag fell after 13 laps, Patrik finished in 8th position, Sebastian in 10th and Frank rounding out the Arden runners in 14th position, after a challenging second race of the weekend.
The opening round was a solid weekend, which saw all drivers score points across the two races – boding well for the next round of the championship, which will take at the team’s home race on the 11-12 May at Silverstone.