After starting on reverse-grid pole, Clément Novalak achieved his maiden F2 podium on Saturday, giving his MP Motorsport team a nice bit of silverware at their home race. Hitech’s Marcus Armstrong won his third Sprint Race of the season, with Prema’s Dennis Hauger finishing out the podium in front of the passionate Dutch crowd at Zandvoort.
By Tyler Foster
F1 Feeder Series spoke to the top three after the race about the unique experience that the Dutch Grand Prix weekend gives to the drivers, as well as asking Novalak about his difficult time this season as a rookie.
Marcus Armstrong, who started alongside Novalak on the front row, got the better getaway and took the lead into turn one before controlling the race and taking the victory. The main concern for the Kiwi was a late safety car which led to a last-lap shootout, but the Hitech driver played it perfectly and got the jump over Novalak to ensure the win.
Feeling the fame
It wasn’t by any means the most exciting race in Formula 2’s history, with overtaking still proving to be an issue, but Zandvoort’s tight layout offers a different type of challenge. The physicality of this circuit matched with the enclosed grandstands throughout the lap make the event very unique. We asked race winner Armstrong whether his experience in the Netherlands had been the best of the season for them thus far.
“It is quite remarkable how passionate these fans are,” Armstrong said. “Leaving the track each evening, I feel like I’m a Jonas brother or something. It is crazy how many people there are. Even they all stay to watch the F2 race, which doesn’t often happen. Usually after F1 [qualifying] you see the fans leaving the grandstands. They stayed here today and it was phenomenal. I think Monza next week will be equally as special but today was really, really cool.”
A return to the craziness
For Clément Novalak, it was a return to Zandvoort after racing there in the penultimate round of Formula 3 where the Frenchman scored two second-place finishes. Regardless, the MP Motorsport driver seemed to once again more than enjoy himself throughout the weekend.
Last year I felt like I was in a football stadium for about 72 hours.Clément Novalak
“I already had the experience last year so it wasn’t crazy to see because obviously I saw it last year, but last year I felt like I was in a football stadium for about 72 hours. The fans are completely crazy, I love it. It’s really cool to see that passion in so many people, and as well the track is awesome, so overall it’s a great event and I love coming here.”
Another driver with experience from last year was Dennis Hauger, who won the Feature Race in F3 at Zandvoort. A P3 this time round seemed to spark some happy memories for the Norwegian driver.
I think it was one of the coolest experiences that I’ve had after a winDennis Hauger
“Seeing so many people on a Saturday watching the Sprint Race in F2 is really cool,” Hauger said. “I remember last year in F3 as well, winning on the Sunday, it was quite crazy seeing the crowd. I think it was one of the coolest experiences that I’ve had after a win so it’s something special about this weekend for sure.”
Catching up with old rivals
This was the first podium for Novalak at this level, having struggled in comparison to his title rivals from last year’s F3 season with Hauger, Doohan, Vesti, Sargeant, and Iwasa all having won a race in Formula 2 this year. Despite taking his best result of his career, Novalak wasn’t content with just a P2 and felt that a win wasn’t far around the corner. The Frenchman explained his feelings on his lacklustre results this year compared to his F3 rivals.
Everybody has a sort of different path and it’s taken me a little longer to get used to the carClément Novalak
“Yeah of course it’s difficult but at the same time I’m working it. I’m going through the things you need to learn. Everybody has a sort of different path and it’s taken me a little longer to get used to the car, but it’s not really got me down in the end. I’ve just been pushing, kept pushing and I’m sure that after a while in any case hard work pays off. So, I’m looking forward to keep working and hopefully get some wins on the board soon.”
For Sunday’s Feature Race, Novalak’s MP Motorsport teammate Felipe Drugovich will start on pole and will be looking to extend his championship lead of 46 points even further. Last week’s Feature Race winner, Jack Doohan, will be starting alongside the Brazilian on the front row. The pair endured a battle for victory in Spa and we could be in for the same again this weekend.
Header Photo Credit: Formula Motorsport Ltd
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