GB3

Arden’s second-season chances in GB3

4 Mins read
Credit: Jakob Ebrey

Arden Motorsport joined the GB3 Championship for 2021, having competed in the F4 British Championship, FIA Formula 2 Championship and GP3 in previous years.

The Banbury-based team also compete in Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine, but had never competed in Britain’s premier single-seater series until last year.

They brought impressive pedigree into GB3, and there was plenty of excitement as such a successful team joined the grid.

The ‘Red Arrows’ have brought some impressive talent through British F4 alone in recent years, including Dan Ticktum, Ayrton Simmons, Sandy Mitchell, Olli Caldwell and the two most recent FIA F3 champions in Dennis Hauger and Oscar Piastri.

They also won the 2018 British F4 Teams’ Championship with Sebastian Priaulx, Hauger and Jack Doohan, despite the trio only finishing seventh, fourth and fifth in the Drivers’ Championship respectively.

2021

Arden began their debut season with a two-car line-up of British F4 graduates Frederick Lubin and Alex Connor, the latter delivering three overall wins for Arden in 2020 as the team finished third in the Teams Cup, 3.5 points ahead of JHR Developments.

Only running two cars in GB3 did not put Arden at a disadvantage compared to the likes of Carlin and Hitech GP‘s three-car entries, as only the two highest-placed finishers in each race are eligible to contribute to the Teams’ Championship.

Lubin brought home a best-finish of fourth at Donington Park, Thruxton and Croft, also taking pole positions at Oulton Park and Brands Hatch, finishing second in the Rookie Cup.

Meanwhile, Dubai-based Connor won at Donington, Silverstone and Brands Hatch, with further podiums at Silverstone, Brands and Knockhill.

Frederick Lubin testing at Silverstone in 2021.
Credit: Jakob Ebrey

Lubin began the 2021 GB3 season in solid fashion, finishing sixth, fourth and 11th at Brands Hatch, before two more points finishes at Silverstone, including another fourth place.

He withdrew from the rounds at Donington and Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps with health issues, but returned for the visit to Snetterton as the teams entered the second half of the season.

Once the British-American driver made his welcome return to the grid at Snetterton, he reprised his consistent point-scoring form quickly.

He took fifth-place finishes at Snetterton and Silverstone, with third-places coming in the reverse-grid outings at Oulton Park and Donington.

Lubin will compete in Euroformula Open with Motopark in 2022, after also testing with Carlin over the winter.

Meanwhile, Alex Connor delivered similarly positive results in the first two rounds at Brands and Silverstone, taking his, and the team’s best result of the first two rounds with second place in the reverse-grid Race 3 in Northamptonshire.

He enjoyed himself in the first two races at Donington, taking third and second, before retiring from Race 3. That was his last GB3 appearance of the season, as he did not compete in the five remaining rounds.

Alex Connor testing the Tatuus BF3-020 in 2021.
Credit: Jakob Ebrey

Roman Bilinski competed with Arden in British F4 in 2020, switching to Carlin for the first part of 2021. He ran with Carlin for the first four rounds of the season, but was drafted back in at Arden to replace Lubin ahead of the third GB3 round at Donington.

The Polish driver adapted to the Tatuus BF3-020 quickly, having struggled in the early rounds of British F4.

He delivered three top-five finishes at Donington, and two podiums at Spa, including his first win in what was then British Formula 3. Even in the reverse-grid race on Sunday, he put in a typical battling display to move up to fourth.

His stellar form convinced him to prioritise the newly-rebranded GB3 Championship for the rest of the season; he withdrew from British F4 after a third-place finish at Oulton Park.

With Alex Connor no longer competing, and Lubin absent at Spa, Bilinski was the only Arden on the grid in Belgium, but he had already proved an astute signing.

Roman Bilinski holds off Christian Mansell at Donington Park.
Credit: Jakob Ebrey

Three further podiums followed at Snetterton as Lubin returned, including a win in Race 3 in Norfolk.

Silverstone was comfortably his worst weekend of the GB3 season, as he finished eighth in Race 1 and retired from both races on Sunday, after a collision with Roberto Faria in Race 3.

He struggled in Qualifying and the first two races at Oulton Park in September, but benefitted from his lower grid position and cemented his ‘Rain Man’ status with a wet-weather win in Cheshire.

That would be his third and last win of the season, with another third place coming at his second visit to Donington in the first race of the final round.

Bilinski was announced at Trident‘s new FRECA outfit for 2022, alongside Tim Tramnitz and Leonardo Fornaroli.

Such upheaval in its driver line-up will not be what Garry Horner‘s team would have liked from its first season in GB3, but Bilinski’s three wins and seven podiums played a huge part in taking the Red Arrows to fourth in the Teams Championship, 99 points ahead of fellow newcomers Elite Motorsport.

2022

Arden announced a two-car line-up for their second season at this level, with another British F4 graduate joining the GB3 programme.

American David Morales was announced in March, having competed with the team in the second half of 2021 on the British Touring Car Championship support bill.

He took three pole positions at Snetterton, Brands Hatch and Thruxton, with two podiums coming at Brands and Thruxton. He failed to finish at Snetterton and Brands Hatch, though, converting his pole at Thruxton into second place.

His late-season efforts delivered an 18th-place finish in the standings, incidentally only finishing 10 points behind Bilinski’s total.

Alex Connor will also return for 2022, after finishing 16th in the F3 Asian Championship during the winter and competing in the first two meetings of the Praga Cup.

The new Tatuus MSV-022 will deliver a 25 per cent increase in downforce, with a 20bhp power increase meaning the improvements may balance themselves out. That’s the sentiment several drivers, including Tom Lebbon, have expressed during pre-season testing.

Teams whose drivers have experienced a range of performance, such as the increased downforce of the Formula Regional car, may have an early advantage.

Fittingly, Arden brings a slightly more experienced line-up into 2022 than in its first season.

Connor’s three rounds of GB3 experience, combined with a range of cars in Asian F3 and prototype racing in 2022 may help Arden understand the new car quicker than other teams, while Morales also brings Formula Regional Asian Championship experience to the grid.

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Stickler for track limits, covering the GB3 Championship and the FIA Formula 3 Championship. Twitter: @MCallanderMedia
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