BAHRAIN INTERNATIONAL CIRCUIT | FIA F2 PRE-SEASON TEST
Sakhir, Bahrain, 16 February 2023 – Clément Novalak Confident Going Into Sophomore F2 Campaign
The 2023 FIA Formula 2 championship season opened this week in Sakhir at the Bahrain International Circuit, returning to the Middle East for three days of official pre-season testing. Clément Novalak arrived into Bahrain fresh after enjoying a busy winter break of fitness training and simulator work with his new squad, Trident Motorsport. Coming off a promising rookie season in the 2022 FIA F2 championship, which saw Clément claim a reverse-grid pole position, one podium, and multiple top-5 place finishes, the young Frenchman was eager to get behind the wheel of his #21 Trident car.
The test opened late Tuesday morning to clear, hot temperatures, seeing overly sandy conditions on the track. Clément & his team would elect to have very limited running in the first session as each driver would be allocated just eight sets of new tires for the entirety of the three-day test, deeming it a waste running in poor track conditions. Ultimately, the Frenchman would run a total of eleven laps in the late morning, setting his fastest performance lap on medium tires with a time of 1:48.388. After a lunch break the afternoon session would get underway, seeing much better track conditions and Clément focus on a race simulation straight out of the box. Maintaining a target pace of 1:48.5 as requested by the team, the Frenchman felt confident with his car. During his best performance run later in the evening, Clément showed very rapid sectors one & two, but would lose .4 seconds due to traffic in the final sector. Even with the traffic, his time was good for twelfth quickest, with pace to be in the top-five. Clément would finish the day with a total forty laps around Bahrain International Circuit.
Hot, dry temperatures returned Wednesday, seeing Clément use the entirety of the morning session to focus solely on race simulations, setting the sixteenth fastest time of the session on new Pirelli medium tires – showcasing rapid race-pace and strong car control. Clément stayed on-target for his laps, however there still needed to be more setup adjustments made to his car to prepare for the performance runs later in the evening session. On one of his final laps, the left-rear suspension would fail ending his session before the checkered flag would wave. As the track opened for the early evening session, Clément’s mechanics found that the driveshaft of his car was broken. As the clocked ticked away, the Frenchman’s crew worked tirelessly to fix the mechanical problem, seeing him go back out on track with just fifteen minutes left in the session. With such little time, Clément would only complete a total of seven laps in the evening session, and a total of thirty-five laps on Wednesday.
The final day of the pre-season test began late Thursday morning, seeing Clément pushing immediately as the session went green. On lap seven, Clément set his fastest time of the session, then shifting focus to dialing in his Trident car for push laps later in the evening. Utilizing twenty-three laps and finishing second quickest of the session, Clément was poised to continue perfecting his qualifying set up during the evening session. The Frenchman would finish his week of testing later Thursday evening, where he utilized the first half of the session on used Pirelli soft tires working on the car setup for performance runs, and ending the session with an unfortunate fuel pump malfunction. Overall a productive day with forty-nine tours completed around the Bahraini Circuit.
Clément made sure to maximize his time behind the wheel of his Trident Motorsport car before his second full-time season of FIA F2 begins in two weeks; logging in a total of 124 laps and over 650 KM driven around Bahrain International Circuit during the three-day test. Although his car suffered a few mechanical setbacks, the upgrades made since the beginning of the test are positive. The Frenchman is happy with the progress made, and feels confident that he is able to make the car behave in accordance to what he wants it to achieve. The 2023 FIA Formula 2 championship will open with a return to Sakhir, Bahrain for Round 1 from 03-05 March 2023.
“Overall, the progress made during the three days of testing was quite positive. We put in a lot of mileage to improve the race pace of my car, and we were definitely able to make gains on the longer runs. There are still a few minor niggles to figure out, however I’m feeling very confident going into my second full season in F2. I really enjoy Bahrain International Circuit, and can’t wait to return in a couple of weeks to get racing.”
Tuesday 14 February: Morning – 13th, 1:46.388, 11 Laps | Evening – 12th, 1:43.071, 29 Laps
Wednesday 15 February: Morning – 16th, 1:48.439, 28 Laps | Evening – 22nd, 1:46.983, 7 Laps
Thursday 16 February: Morning – 2nd, 1:47.031.595, 23 Laps | Evening – 7th, 1:43.170, 26 Laps
FINAL CLASSIFICATION: 17th, 1:43.071, 124 LAPS, 671 KM DRIVEN