Trident driver Clément Novalak is 6th in the FIA Formula 3 drivers standings this year, but is not fully happy with his first part of the season. He aims to finish in style, especially this weekend at Spa-Francorchamps where he has a lot of expectations.
By Perceval Wolff
The 20-year-old Frenchman could be called ‘Mister Consistency’ this season: he has finished all the races in the top eight, except at the Red Bull Ring: “Yes, the consistency was there. But I always say: it’s good to be consistent, but I also need to be consistent at a higher level, Dennis Hauger is the perfect example. His season is really perfect, nothing to add.”
The 2019 British F3 champion is not entirely happy with his rookie F3 season: “It’s not really an incredible season so far, I had highs and lows. It’s quite average. […] I often had issues in practice which did not help me going in to qualifying. That’s where I need to improve myself, it’s where I’m still missing something.”
However, even if Clément Novalak has shown consistency and great race pace, he encountered a nightmare weekend in Austria where he was involved in two crashes and didn’t score a single point: “The positive aspect is that I didn’t break any bones in Race 3 (he was collected by Arthur Leclerc’s car at Turn 4, ed.). Apart from that, we had so much speed, it was probably the weekend where we were the closest to Hauger. So yeah, it was a nightmare weekend. It has to be the only one this year though, because I will need to maximise everything and avoid crashes like this.”
And now? What are the objectives for the Trident driver now the season is coming to a close, with three rounds left? “I just need to maximise my potential for the final races to try to get into the top three, that would be a great achievement. In the last round in Hungary, even though I didn’t get podiums or wins, I still scored solid points finishing in the top eight every time. I was the driver who scored the most points that round behind Hauger. If I finished P2 or P3 in the championship this way, I’d take it. But obviously, it would also be sweet to get my first win.”
The next three rounds will take place in Spa, Zandvoort and Austin. From which of these three tracks does the Frenchman expect the most? “Spa. It’s historically one of the best tracks for Trident. In the last three years, they got one pole, two P2’s and they won a race every year. So there is potential. […] I love Spa but last year it was difficult for me: I did a really good lap which would have put me P3, but I took a red flag two, three seconds before I could complete it. And then it rained just after so it was a really difficult session.”
It should be noted that the 20-year-old doesn’t only think about himself. He is counting on his relationship with his teammates Jack Doohan and David Schumacher to fulfil the obligations on track to the team: “We have a good relationship, we have some things in common besides motorsport, it’s quite friendly. But anyway, in any team nowadays, as soon as the driver puts his helmet on, the guy he wants to beat the most is his team mate. It’s good because we are all on about the same level. Even though David had some difficult first races, we knew he was fast.”
“We learn and we help each other a lot so everyone can progress within the team, and it’s maybe something we can use to catch up with Prema in the teams standings. We know that Hauger is extremely fast but Arthur (Leclerc, ed.) and (Olli, ed.) Caldwell have had several weekends where they had more problems. If we keep on improving our pace as we did in Hungary, we could gradually take points from Prema and eventually see if we could get the teams title.”
Clément Novalak will now focus on Spa-Francorchamps this weekend, before heading to Zandvoort the week after, then Austin in October.
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