AUTODROMO NAZIONALE DI MONZA | 2023 FIA FORMULA 2 ROUND THIRTEEN
Monza, Italy, 03 September 2023 – Clément Novalak Faces Difficult Penultimate Round in Monza
FIA Formula 2 closed out the late-summer double-header over the weekend in Italy, seeing the legendary Autodromo Nazionale di Monza host the thirteenth & penultimate round of the 2023 championship season. With clear skies featured for the duration of the weekend, Clément Novalak was primed to carry the momentum after his feature race win in Holland. The tow plays a big role at the Temple of Speed, as the circuit’s long straights provide ample overtaking opportunities, seeing track position massively important for qualifying.
Free practice opened up round thirteen Friday morning under warm & sunny skies, seeing Clément head out on track to dial in his #21 Trident Motorsport car immediately as the session went green. He would set the fifth-quickest time on his first push lap with an impressive 1:35.124, which he would improve on during his next two laps. Feeling confident with his car, the Frenchman would pit after his third push lap for minor setup adjustments after setting the twelfth-fastest time. He would improve his time once again after his first lap out of the pits, seeing him return to pitlane for further setup adjustments with just six minutes remaining in the session. After returning to the track with enough time for one more push lap, a red flag would bring a premature end to the session before he would be able to test his changes, ultimately seeing the Frenchman finish in P17.
Qualifying would commence later Friday evening under partly cloudy skies and hot track temperatures. Drivers would play the waiting game to enter the track as the session went green, seeing the desire for track position to get a tow down the long straights of the track be the focus of the contest. After waiting ten minutes, Clément would enter the track with the other drivers, immediately attacking the circuit to get the maximum out of his car. During his first lap he would have his time deleted due to track limits as, seeing him put a time of 1:33.474 on his second push. He would return to the pits for fresh super-soft Pirellis and setup changes with fifteen minutes remaining in the session. Looking for a tow, Clément would delay returning to the track with the rest of the drivers until there was just enough time for one more push lap. Drivers in front would bunch up the field, turning the circuit into a traffic jam. Barely crossing the line before time expired, the Frenchman would not improve on his time as he found himself behind a slower driver, finishing the session in a disappointing P21.
Saturday evening’s sprint race saw the continuation of pleasant weather and ideal track temperatures as Clément started at the back of the field on medium compound tires. After a solid start as the lights went out, the Frenchman made an impressive double-overtake while narrowly avoiding a spinning car to P19. After a brief stint behind the safety car, racing would resume on lap five, seeing Clément make another overtake to P18. On lap twelve after being stuck in a DRS train, the safety car halted the race, seeing the Sophomore gamble and dive to the pits for super soft compound tires. Racing got underway again on lap sixteen, seeing Clément make another double overtake through the first chicane to move into P14. On the stickier tires, the Frenchman would continue surging forward for the remainder of the race. After taking the checkered flag in P12, two drivers in front would receive time penalties for track limits, seeing Clément ultimately finish barely outside of the points in P10 after moving up an incredible eleven positions.
Sunday morning’s feature race was over before it really started, unfortunately. After a fantastic start and gaining three positions through the first three corners, Clément would be nudged off the track and become beached in the gravel. Seeing it an impossible task to return to the track, the Frenchman would be forced to retire.
Clément hoped to carry the momentum of his feature race win in Holland last weekend into the penultimate round, however a difficult Friday put him on the back foot for round thirteen. After picking up an incredible eleven positions during the sprint race, he would be pushed off track and faced an early retirement during Sunday’s feature race. With a lengthy break until the final round in November, the Frenchman has plenty of time to regroup before the 2023 FIA Formula 2 championship heads to Abu Dhabi 24-26 November.
“Once again Friday set us back after an annoying qualifying session. The car showed mega pace in the sprint race, but Sunday’s race was over before it really began. It’s a shame as I was really hoping to carry over the momentum after my win in Holland. We have loads of time to regroup before the season finale in Abu Dhabi at the end of November.”
Friday 01 September: Free Practice – 17th, 1:34.220, 18 Laps | Qualifying – 21st, 1:33.474, 9 Laps
Saturday 02 September: Sprint Race – 10th, 0 Points, 21 Laps
Sunday 03 September: Feature Race – DNF, 0 Points, 1 Lap
ROUND THIRTEEN TOTALS: 0 POINTS, 49 LAPS, 284 KM DRIVEN