Clement Novalak described his unexpected maiden Formula 2 victory in the Zandvoort feature race as “very sweet” after his struggles to adapt to the series.
Novalak came from 13th on the grid to win after surviving chaos and benefitting from safety car timing.
This was also Trident’s first feature race win in the championship since Johnny Cecotto Jr won in Barcelona back in 2014. The team did step on top of the podium with Richard Verschoor at Spielberg last year, but they were later disqualified from the race.
Novalak admitted that he “had not adapted really well to Formula 2.”
“It’s a very good feeling. It’s been a long time and yeah, chuffed to bits to come away with the win,” he confessed after the race.
Despite starting in the middle of the pack, Novalak’s win was more a result of the race going his way rather than him making on track moves. On lap 11, he emerged as the race leader out of the pit-lane as the safety car was deployed. Notwithstanding, he showed he had the pace and commanded the race to the end after the restart.
“I didn’t really have much overtaking to do, I’m not gonna lie to you,” he said. “I think at the first restart obviously a few guys went off and we managed to pick up a couple of positions that way. And then I don’t really know why the safety car was triggered to be honest because the incident wasn’t anywhere around me.
“We made use of the fact that we managed to box right before it came out, and sort of boxed under safety car, you could say, and managed to obviously come out in front. And I’m not gonna lie, I didn’t even know I was in the lead until the safety car was right in front of me. And I realised there was no cars between us.
“The first three laps [after the safety car] I thought it was going to be a really long race because I could see that Zane [Maloney] was keeping up quite close. And then slowly we managed to pull a gap which was comforting to say the least. Then obviously made a couple of mistakes, he sort of came back, managed to make the gap again. From then on, the last couple laps [I] controlled it.”
Before that, Novalak had an unsettling moment in the cockpit during the safety car period due to his brakes almost failing.
“I don’t know why the pedal kept going extremely long. I don’t know if it was because I did too much power braking to warm the tyres or whatever, but it would go really to the floor and I was like ‘shit, really?’ like, I mean, ‘it’s my one time I’m behind the safety car leading a race and now the brakes decide to go.
“But, no, it was only a little issue that lasted half a lap, so it was fine.”