F2: Clement Novalak wins frantic Zandvoort Feature Race as title contenders struggle
On a day when all the championship contenders hit trouble, Clement Novalak took his maiden Formula 2 race victory for Trident on a dramatic day at Zandvoort. The Frenchman kept himself out of the chaos, held Zane Maloney and Jak Crawford at bay in the closing stages after inheriting the lead early on following several Safety Car interventions.
Each of the drivers in the top six of the drivers’ championship suffered a torrid race. Fourth in the standings entering Sunday, Jack Doohan spun into retirement at the initial race start to bring out the first Safety Car.
In his efforts to make up ground from P3 in the championship following a disappointing qualifying result, DAMS and Red Bull Junior Team driver Ayumu Iwasa made an attempt to pass Campos Racing’s Kush Maini at the restart. Getting onto a damp part of the track, the Japanese driver ran deep and made contact with Maini at Turn 1, both falling out of the points as a result.
After taking the lead of the race through the pit stop phase, Theo Pourchaire looked to be on the way to extending his lead in the drivers’ championship. But on his out-lap and on cold medium tyres, he spun off the road at Turn 7 and into retirement.
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Closest challenger in the championship Frederik Vesti was then poised to take points out of his rival until the wheels literally fell off his charge. After his mandatory stop, the PREMA Racing and Mercedes Junior Team driver lost both rear tyres and was out on the spot as another Safety Car was deployed.
Fifth and sixth in the championship, Victor Martins and Oliver Bearman battled away for P5 at the race restart, and the Ferrari Academy Driver looked to have the move sealed into Turn 3. On corner exit though, Martins made contact with the PREMA driver, resulting in race-ending damage for the Briton.
The ART Grand Prix man was later handed a 10-second time penalty for the incident, dropping him from P5 at the chequered flag to ninth.
In the battle for the win, Novalak held onto the lead following the final race resumption after the Safety Car and, despite late-race pressure from Maloney and Crawford, claimed his first F2 win.
Maloney took second after undercutting pole sitter Crawford in the pit stop phase and held off the Hitech Pulse-Eight driver to take P2 and a fourth podium of 2023.
For a full recap of the Formula 2 Zandvoort Feature Race, visit the official website here.