Clement Novalak was full of praise for his MP Motorsport team following a point-scoring result on home soil at Le Castellet. The French driver finished the Feature Race P8 having started from 15th on the grid.
Novalak was the first driver to make his mandatory pit stop at the end of Lap 7, but interestingly the team opted to start him on the hard tyres. It left him with a mammoth stint to complete on the less durable soft compound Pirelli tyres, but he managed it expertly.
Following the race, the MP driver was quick to thank his team for the out-of-the-box strategy that netted him his first points finish since the Barcelona Feature Race.
“It was good. We basically thought the softs were the hards. We fitted them on lap seven at the first opportunity and in the end, they lasted as long as the hards. It was extremely aggressive. I think we were borderline with the cliff, so it was a well-timed stop.”
Novalak’s switch to the softs was a strategy mirrored by teammate Felipe Drugovich, albeit with the Brazilian opting to pit much later on Lap 14. Despite the tyre offset, Novalak finished just 22 seconds behind his teammate by the chequered flag with much older rubber on his car.
Both MP’s made great use of their strategies to secure a double-points finish for the team and fight back in the Teams' Standings, retaking the lead from Carlin after Liam Lawson’s victory in the Sprint Race on Saturday. Novalak was giving very little away over just how he made the strategy work.
“If I told you I’d have to kill you! But to be honest, I’m happy with the points though I’m more happy overall with the progress we made from the last three weekends. I think it’s been the first weekend where we really kicked into gear compared to the last couple of races. Even Qualifying wasn’t so bad. In the end I made a couple of mistakes but I think a top 10 could have been there.
“Most importantly, I’m extremely happy because I drove the race in front of such a big crowd. I don’t know how to explain it but it was quite emotional that last lap. I hope I made my dad proud wearing that helmet. There were a few shivers and maybe a tear or two on the last lap.”
With Round 10 coming up immediately, there’s not much time for Novalak to savour the result before refocusing on the task at hand and the final race weekend ahead of the summer break. The Frenchman says that the Hungaroring could be another weekend where he secures a strong result, naming it as one of his favourite on the F2 calendar.
Work will begin immediately in terms of preparation for the weekend, with Novalak eager to get into the simulator as soon as possible to home in on another potential points result to go into the break on a high.
“I’ll be doing plenty of sim work. We don’t really have a lot of time to turn it around. I’m going to try and figure out how I’m actually going to get to the sim because everything seems fully booked in terms of trains and planes. Hopefully I can get some sim done. Then I can arrive in Budapest on time, once I’m there I’ll just work hard and do my best.
“It’s a really cool track, probably one of my favourites on the calendar actually. The city is really nice as well, good food, nice people. I’m really looking forward to it.”