Home Featured Novalak takes unlikely win in dramatic Zandvoort F2 feature race

Novalak takes unlikely win in dramatic Zandvoort F2 feature race

by Peter Allen

Photo: Formula Motorsport Ltd

Clement Novalak claimed an unlikely win in an incredibly dramatic Formula 2 feature race at Zandvoort, where title rivals Theo Pourchaire and Frederik Vesti both retired in remarkable circumstances.

The race began with a rolling start behind the safety car even though the track appeared mostly dry. But with most drivers on slicks and some damp patches, there was still chaos when the field was released.

The top two, Jak Crawford and Dennis Hauger, both went deep into the first corner, and while third-placed Vesti managed to keep to the inside, he ended up spinning around. His Prema team-mate Ollie Bearman was then tagged around by Juan Manuel Correa, with Victor Martins going into the gravel in avoidance.

Before all of that, Jack Doohan had lost control on the banked final corner and spun, and would not be able to continue – necessitating a safety car.

At the restart there were problems for another title contender with Ayumu Iwasa attempting a move on Kush Maini into the first corner but unable to slow his car down on the damp inside line, causing a collision between the two.

Third-placed Zane Maloney was the first of the frontrunners to pit at the end of lap seven, followed by the top-two of Crawford and Hauger a lap later. Isack Hadjar and Pourchaire stayed out for one additional lap, and appeared to make light contact as they braked for the pit entrance.

Pourchaire was serviced quicker by his ART Grand Prix crew and emerged ahead not only of Hadjar but of all those who had stopped, giving the championship leader the net race lead after he had started 10th. However, on cold medium tyres he would lose his car on the rise into Schievlak and crash into the outside barriers.

While making a mandatory pit-stop under safety car would not be permitted in the tight Zandvoort pits, some cars were able to pit before the safety car was eventually deployed – including the recovering Prema pair of Bearman and Vesti.

Vesti had to wait behind his team-mate but, after falling to 19th with his first corner, still stood to make inroads into title rival Pourchaire’s advantage. However, remarkably, both of his rear wheels would then come detached just a few corners after he left the pits.

Novalak had started 13th and took over the lead when Pourchaire pitted. He also took his chance to pit prior to the safety car and retained the race lead for the restart on lap 17 of the scheduled 40.

At the restart, Maloney impressively drove around the outside of Crawford in the first corner for second place and set off after Novalak, but the Trident driver would respond by setting the fastest lap and pulling a gap.

Having previously scored just two points in what is his second full season in F2, Novalak would hold on to take victory by 2.1 seconds over Maloney, who held off Crawford by just 0.3s at the line. Richard Verschoor, who started alongside Novalak in 14th, was close behind in fourth.

There was a further incident between Bearman and Martins over fifth place following the restart, the two meeting at the exit of the Turn 3 banking. The contact sent Bearman crashing into the barriers with Martins receiving a 10-second penalty as a result.

That gave a distant fifth place to Hauger in front of Hadjar and Enzo Fittipaldi. Martins was classified ninth behind Amaury Cordeel and ahead of Correa, who was also penalised for his contact with Bearman at the start.

Race result (38 laps)
Pos Driver Team Time
1 Clement Novalak Trident 1h01m36.125s
2 Zane Maloney Carlin +2.183s
3 Jak Crawford Hitech GP +2.525s
4 Richard Verschoor Van Amersfoort Racing +3.197s
5 Dennis Hauger MP Motorsport +11.695s
6 Isack Hadjar Hitech GP +13.706s
7 Enzo Fittipaldi Carlin +17.646s
8 Amaury Cordeel Virtuosi Racing +20.586s
9 Victor Martins ART Grand Prix +20.879s
10 Juan Manuel Correa Van Amersfoort Racing +23.032s
11 Roman Stanek Trident +33.147s
12 Roy Nissany PHM by Charouz +34.673s
13 Ayumu Iwasa DAMS +37.644s
14 Arthur Leclerc DAMS +39.464s
15 Josh Mason PHM by Charouz +45.146s
16 Ralph Boschung Campos Racing +45.548s
17 Jehan Daruvala MP Motorsport +47.377s
18 Kush Maini Campos Racing +1m17.127s
Ret Ollie Bearman Prema
Ret Frederik Vesti Prema
Ret Jack Doohan Virtuosi Racing
Ret Theo Pourchaire ART Grand Prix
Fastest lap: Novalak, 1m23.816s

Championship standings
 Pourchaire 168   2 Vesti 156   3 Iwasa 134   4 Doohan 130   5 Martins 122   6 Fittipaldi 104   7 Bearman 102   8 Verschoor 96   9 Maloney 96   10 Hauger 92