Arden Motorsport - Well established team in the lower ranks of formula racing
Arden Motorsport is the British team, recognized as one of the most successful in the lower tiers of formula racing.
The team based in Banbury, Oxfordshire, UK, was founded in 1997 by Christian Horner, team principal of Red Bull Racing Formula One team, and his father Garry. Thanks to the strong business connections and Horner’s role in the Red Bull team, Arden Motorsport often signs young drivers from Red Bull junior program. Since its creation, the team competes in various championships, including GP2 and GP3 Series, as well as in the Formula Renault V8 3.5 Series.
The beginning was in International Formula 3000
The newly-formed team, which over the years competed under various names, made a racing debut in 1997 International Formula 3000. The start was humble after Horner borrowed money to run the team and, at the same time, to be a driver. The results were very modest and Horner finished 21st in the Championship, with only one point. In 1998, Horner continued to act as both team owner and driver but was accompanied with Belgian driver Kurt Mollekens who did much better and finished 6th overall while Horner finished the season empty-handed, without a single point.
The following season brought some major changes. Prodrive took 50% stake in Arden, Lukoil became the main sponsor and Horner retired as a driver to become team manager. However, the results were poor after Marc Goossens and Viktor Maslov failed to qualify for many races and both finished the season without points. At the end of the year, Horner bought back the stake from Prodrive and stayed in the International Formula 3000, becoming soon of the leading teams.
Climb to the top
In 2000, under the name Arden Team Russia, the team finished 8th in the championship while Darren Manning was 8th in the Drivers’ Championship. Manning and Maslov remained as drivers in 2001 but the results were slightly below the expectations, so the team dropped to the 9th position.
The season of 2002 was the best in the team’s history. Arden International won the Teams’ Championship title, thanks to good performances of Tomas Enge and Bjorn Wirdheim who shared four wins between them before finishing 3rd and 4th in the Drivers’ Championship respectively.
Wirdheim remained as a driver in 2003 and was accompanied with Townsend Bell. That year was even better than the previous one after Wirdheim became a champion and the team defended its crown.
In 2004, the last year before International Formula 3000 was renamed to GP2 Series, Arden International scored another double. Vitantonio Liuzzi had a fantastic season and scored seven wins before becoming a champion, while the team won its third consecutive title. Robert Doornbos also played an important role that year as he won one race and finished 3rd overall.
The results weren’t as good at the start of GP2 Series
In 2005 the F3000 was rebranded to GP2 Series but nothing has changed in the team’s efforts. Heikki Kovalainen and Nicolas Lapierre were the drivers that year when the team finished as a vice-champion, losing to ART Grand Prix, while Kovalainen, who scored five wins, also was a runner-up, finishing behind Nico Rosberg.
Lapierre stayed with the team in 2006 with Michael Ammermuller as a teammate. Neel Jani also appeared in two rounds that year, replacing Lapierre who was injured. That campaign wasn’t as good after Arden International dropped to the 4th in the Teams’ Championship. Even after missing four races, Lapierre was the team’s best-placed driver as he was 9th in the standings.
Driver line-up was changed in 2007 when Bruno Senna and Adrian Zaugg were signed, while Filipe Albuquerque replaced Zaugg for the final round. Senna scored one win and other two podiums before finishing 8th in the Drivers’ Championship, but other two drivers somewhat underachieved and the team dropped to the 7th position.
Promoting the new talents
Sebastien Buemi was Arden’s leading driver in the following season. In the first half of the season, his teammate was Yelmer Buurman who was later replaced with Luca Filippi. Buemi did really fine and scored two wins and a total of five podiums what was enough for the 6th place in the final classification. Other two drivers weren’t as successful and Arden took the 6th place in the Teams’ Championship.
The team in the following season continued the tradition to change driver line-up. Talented F3 drivers Sergio Perez and Edoardo Mortara arrived in Arden International but that was a quite turbulent season, marked by many ups and downs. Mortara scored the team’s only victory, Perez finished at podium twice and that was somewhat disappointing for the team which finished 8th in the championship.
The start of 2010 was perfect after Charles Pic won the season-opening race at Catalunya Circuit but the rest of campaign wasn’t so good. Talented Frenchman was able to finish on the podium just once more while the second driver Rodolfo Gonzales picked points only twice. After such results, it was no surprise that Arden International finished 7th in the Teams’ Championship.
Years of struggling
The season of 2011 was a step backward. Drivers were Jolyon Palmer and Josef Kral who scored the only two podiums for the team what was far below the team’s ambitions and reputations. The 11th place in the Championship was the worst result so far.
The following campaign was much better. Luiz Razia had a very good season and finished as the series runner-up with four wins on his account. Simon Trummer as a second driver wasn’t as good but helped his team to finish 3rd in the Championship. That year was the last in which Arden International had some success.
From 2013, Arden International struggled in the GP2 Series and as of the end of 2016, their drivers failed to score a single victory. Unfortunately, the team finished last in the championship scoring only 12 points.
Debut in the GP3 Series and two titles
In 2010 Arden International expanded its operations and entered the GP3 Series with a support of F1 driver Mark Webber. With three cars on the grid, the team struggled during the first season, amassed 18 points and finished 9th in the standings.
After the clumsy rookie season, MW Arden had an excellent campaign in 2011. The sophomore team finished as a runner-up after Mitch Evans and Lewis Williamson both scored one victory. Evans stayed with the team in 2012 and became the GP3 Series champion with three wins and other three podiums on the way to the title. The team for the second year in a row was the series vice-champion.
Another title was won in 2013 when Daniil Kvyat won the title driving for MW Arden. The Russian driver was in fine form over the season and scored three wins. Robert Visoiu also did well and scored two wins helping the team to again finish 2nd in the Championship.
Waiting for another GP3 Series trophy
The following two years were finished without trophies but the team still had some success. Three race wins were scored during 2014 but Arden International dropped to the 5th position. In the following season, the team moved up to the 3rd, mainly thanks to Emil Bernstorff who was 4th in the Drivers’ Championship.
Arden International in 2016 confirmed its reputation by finishing the season as the GP3 Series vice-champion, losing to ART Grand Prix. Jake Dennis was the team’s leading driver that year after scoring two wins and other three podiums before finishing 4th in the final classification.
Arden International won the Formula Renault 3.5 Series title
Except for its involvement in GP2 and GP3 Series, Arden International is also known as the very successful team in other championships. One of the series in which the team is particularly successful is Formula Renault 3.5 Series.
In 2012, Arden International joined forces with Caterham and finished 2nd in the Teams’ Championship while Antonio Felix da Costa was 4th in the Drivers’ Championship that year. The Portuguese driver moved up to the 3rd place in the following year while the team dropped to the 4th place after Pietro Fantin failed to meet the expectations.
The season of 2014 again was very fruitful. Pierre Gasly was the series runner-up and the team finished 3rd, behind DAMS and Fortec Motorsport. In 2015 the results somewhat deteriorated but Egor Orudzhev was able to win two races before taking the 5th position overall. The team took the same place in the standings but was prepared to bounce back in 2016.
Arden Motorsport won the title in the rebranded Formula Renault V8 3.5 Series in 2016. Orudzhev again had a fine campaign. He finished 3rd overall with five wins on his account while Aurelien Panis helped the team to win the title after scoring two wins.
Arden is involved in other racing championships
Over the years, Arden International was involved in other racing series. The team was responsible for Team Great Britain operations in the 2005/2006 A1 Grand Prix Series and did a good job after A1 Team GB finished 3rd.
The team also was Italian Formula 3000 champion in 2000, successfully competed in the GP2 Asia Series from 2008 to 2011, finishing twice as vice-champion, and also operates in the British F4 Championship, as well as in Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0.