Novalak claims first F2 victory as championship leaders crash out at Zandvoort

Formula 2

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Clement Novalak clinched his maiden Formula 2 victory at Zandvoort after the two championship leaders retired in separate crashes.

The Trident driver started in 13th but profited from a Safety Car period to make his way to the front. Red Bull juniors Zane Maloney and Jak Crawford joined him on the podium.

Theo Pourchaire and Frederik Vesti, who started the race at the top of the points standings, crashed out. The championship leaders therefore remain separated by 12 points.

Conditions were considerably drier than they have been yesterday, when the sprint race had to be abandoned. But the track was damp again, and drivers were split over whether to start on wet weather tyres or slicks.

Crawford started in pole position with Dennis Hauger joining him on the front row, while Vesti and Maloney lined up directly behind. All four opted for slicks, but some others further back chose to start on treaded wet weather tyres.

Race control decided to use a rolling start given the conditions, but the race’s first retirement happened on the Safety Car led formation lap as Jack Doohan spun at the final turn. Moments after the start, several drivers spun at the first corner.

Vesti was the first to lock up and spin, before Juan Manuel Correa tagged the back of Oliver Bearman which caused the Ferrari junior to drop from sixth. Maloney also had to run off-track to avoid the incident. The Safety Car was therefore called to return to the track, and Correa was later given a 10-second time penalty.

On the lap four restart, however, more drivers went off at turn one. Ayumu Iwasa made an ambitious lunge down the inside, only to then collide with Kush Maini in the battle for seventh.

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Although drivers continued to struggle with the damp conditions, it became clear slicks were the tyre to be on. On lap seven the wet weather runners switched to the medium tyres. One lap later the leader Crawford, who started on softs, also switched to mediums, completing his mandatory tyre change.

But pitting early proved to be costly for the Red Bull junior. Championship leader Theo Pourchaire, who had just jumped Isack Hadjar in the pits, crashed at turn seven on lap 10. A well-timed pit stop for Novalak, who ran a long first stint, allowed him to inherit the race lead ahead of Crawford.

Pourchaire’s demise handed a priceless opportunity for Vesti to close his championship deficit. But the following lap the Sauber junior would have been breathing a sigh of relief.

Having pitted and rejoined the track, Vesti got a shock as he accelerated through turns five and six only for both his rear wheels to fall off. It appeared his Prema team had failed to fit them correctly. The furious Vesti therefore missed his chance to gain on his title rival.

The race restarted on lap 17. Novalak kept his lead, while Maloney completed a daring overtake on Crawford for second around the outside of turn one. Bearman also dived past Martins at the same spot, but the ART driver came back at him at turn three. The pair banged wheels, sending Bearman into the barriers. He limped back to the pits and joined his team mate in retirement on a tough day for Prema. Martins was given a 10-second time penalty.

By now the delays meant the race was now running to its time limit. Novalak extended his lead to three seconds, but started to struggle with his tyres, which gave Maloney hopes of a late charge. With six minutes left, the gap was down to six tenths of a second, yet Maloney’s chances all but ended when he locked up at turn one.

This took the pressure off Novalak, who crossed the line 2.1 seconds ahead of Maloney with Crawford a further three tenths behind. Richard Verschoor came fourth, ahead of Hauger, Isack Hadjar, Enzo Fittipaldi, Amaury Cordeel and Martins, as Correa rounded up the top 10.

Novalak’s first win is only his second points finish of the season. While he moves up two places to 17th, Pourchaire keeps his lead ahead of Vesti, Iwasa and Doohan. Zandvoort was a point-less weekend for all top four drivers.

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Formula 2 Netherlands race two results

121Clement NovalakTrident
23Zane MaloneyRodin Carlin
39Jak CrawfordHitech
422Richard VerschoorVan Amersfoort
51Dennis HaugerMP
610Isack HadjarHitech
74Enzo FittipaldiRodin Carlin
815Amaury CordeelVirtuosi
96Victor MartinsART
1023Juan Manuel CorreaVan Amersfoort
1120Roman StaněkTrident
1216Roy NissanyPHM Racing by Charouz
1311Ayumu IwasaDAMS
1412Arthur LeclercDAMS
1517Josh MasonPHM Racing by Charouz
1625Ralph BoschungCampos
172Jehan DaruvalaMP
1824Kush MainiCampos
DNF8Ollie BearmanPrema
DNF7Frederik VestiPrema
DNF5Theo PourchaireART
DNF14Jack DoohanVirtuosi

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Ed Hardy
In 2019, Ed started working on Formula 1 writing articles during race weekends. Alongside that, he also built up experience in football working on...

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5 comments on “Novalak claims first F2 victory as championship leaders crash out at Zandvoort”

  1. The stars of the future.

  2. A great example of why F1 drivers oppose tyre blanket removal…

    1. Yet Indycar drivers have no problems dealing with it, even on ovals, where one slightest mistake can be fatal. Maybe F1 should switch to comptenent tyre manufacturer then, while drivers focus more on driving on cold tyres, rather than their presence in social media or clothes they choose when arraving to the circuit?

      1. Nothing wrong with the tyre manufacturer – everything wrong with F1’s collective expectations. They simply don’t want to go slower for a lap – and probably (justifiably) don’t trust themselves to, either.

        We only have to look back at pretty much every choice they are given with regard to tyres – they almost always want to maintain the status quo. Even when it results in having to modify and limit the performance of the cars to keep using them…

  3. Great job by Novalak. As a regular viewer of screaming wheels it’s nice to see him on the top step.

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