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FIA F2 Zandvoort

Novalak 'didn't know I was in lead' of Dutch F2 race until safety car was deployed

Clement Novalak said he “didn’t even know he was in the lead” of Sunday’s chaotic Formula 2 race at Zandvoort until the safety car was deployed in front of him.

The Aston Martin Vantage Safety Car leads Clement Novalak, Trident

The Trident driver took his maiden series victory in a mixed-up feature race which saw all top six title contenders encounter difficulties.

Novalak was inside the top 10 by the first safety car, which came moments into the opening lap, and gained places as those ahead encountered trouble.

He made a well-timed pitstop after championship leader Theo Pourchaire (ART) crashed out, dipping into the pits with both Prema-run cars moments before the safety car was deployed.

Moments later, title contender Frederik Vesti lost both rear wheels, ending his race and handing Novalak the lead.

But the Frenchman said he “didn’t even know” that was the case until the safety car was “right in front” of him.

He said: “To be honest, I didn't really have much overtaking to do, I'm not going to lie to you.

“I think at the first restart, obviously a few guys went off and we managed to pick up a couple of positions that way.

“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 manage to obviously come out in front.

“I'm not going to 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’s no cars between us.”

It was not all smooth sailing from there, though, with Novalak complaining of a brake bias issue while leading the race.

Clement Novalak (FRA, Trident)

Clement Novalak (FRA, Trident)

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

He said: “Behind the safety car, I don’t know why the pedal kept going really long, I don’t know if it’s because I did too much power braking to warm the tyres or whatever but it would go really to the floor.

“I was like shit, really, it’s my one time, I’m behind the safety car, I’m leading a race and then the brakes decide to go?

“But no, it was only a little issue that lasted half a lap, so it was fine.”

Novalak had scored just two points before the Zandvoort weekend, sitting 19th in the standings, but is now 17th after taking the maximum 26-points on Sunday.

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He finished 14th overall last season driving for MP Motorsport, scoring his only podium of the year at Zandvoort.

Novalak said: “It’s obviously very sweet, we’ve struggled this year.

“To be honest, myself, I’ve not really adapted well to Formula 2, especially coming in from Formula 3 where we had pretty strong results a couple of years ago.

“So yeah, it’s a very good feeling, it’s been a long time and chuffed to bits to come away with the win.”

He added: “It’s great to get such a good result.

“Going into Monza, it’s a challenging race track, but Trident were quick there last year.

“Hopefully we can carry the momentum forward, I don’t know if we’ll be able to replicate exactly this result but hope for the best and give it our best.”

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