The Arden Motorsport team have a mixed weekend at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza. Will Buller qualified on the front row in race one, while series debutant Pierre Gasly finished on the podium. In race two, Gasly scored points but Buller was taken out of the equation after a collision with Strakka Racing’s Will Stevens that broke his front wing and ultimately led to his retirement.
Saturday qualifying was very productive for the team, will Northern Irishman Buller securing second spot in the grid with Frenchman Gasly in seventh. Buller became the de facto pole man after the electronic gremlins of Carlos Sainz Jr’s DAMS machine but made a terrible start, but made spots back to finish fourth on the road. Gasly made a far better start and finished on the podium in his first race in the series having stepped up as champion from the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 series.
Sunday saw Buller once again struggle off the line, and collided with Stevens at the first chicane on lap ten that eliminated the Strakka driver and broke the front wing of the Arden. He struggled on for a few more laps before calling it a day in the pits when he dropped out of the points. Gasly had a more straightforward race fighting with Comtec Racing’s Nikolay Martsenko for fifth, a battle he ultimately won.
Gasly’s podium and fifth placed finishes sees him tying for first place in the championship with Stevens and Sainz on twenty-five points.
“I am pleased to be where I expected to be in race one,” said Gasly. “I put in a very good start, but in trying to get around Robert [Merhi], it was very tight and I preferred to go straight. In coming back onto the track, he was a little faster than I was.
“I made a few small errors during my fight with Martsenko [on Sunday], but I am happy with this result. I think I can be very happy with the race weekend, considering it was my first time and quite incredible to be sharing the points lead at the start of the year.
“Certainly, we know we still have work to do. I was lacking a bit of pace in qualifying and I know now I need to make better use of the new tyres but then when it came to the races it went very well.”
Buller sits in joint eighth with International Draco Racing’s rookie driver Luca Ghiotto on twelve points.
“I am pleased after the weekend in some perspectives and in others disappointed as I know it could’ve been better,” admitted Buller. “We had good pace managing to qualify second and fourth for race one and two. After a poor start in race one dropping down to 8th and then recovering to finish 4th was a solid result.
“I had another bad start in Race Two which left me in the middle of the field, battling with Race One winner, Will Stevens, but he made an unreasonable move into me and damaged my front noise forcing me to retire.
“All in all, I know the areas that I have to work on for Motorland in two weeks time and I believe that we can have a strong weekend.“