Who helped make Clément Novalak into the person he is today? From family ties, to old-school racing icons, to a driver he 'fanboyed' over growing up, the MP Motorsport driver gives us his take on the three people who stood out to him and who he believes had the greatest impact on his career.
“I think pretty much every driver will say the same thing but, at least for me, the person that got me into racing was my dad. Even to this day, even after he passed away, I still use a lot of the things that he taught me early on in my career about the way to work and so on, and how determined he was himself in his life inspired me to continue on with his lessons that he taught me.
"He’s probably the most influential person I've had in my life. Whether it be racing or anything else really. But that's probably the same for most of us, for most sons or even more generally, for most kids, their fathers are always larger than life. It’s been like that for me.”
“The most influential driver that I've looked up to from a very early age, even though I've never watched him because I was way, way, way too young to watch any of his racing, and most people are - but I don't know why, there's something about Jim Clark that I really, really like. He seemed to be a just a complete driver. And I think that's probably an inspiration to me because he was a Formula 1 driver and he won a couple World Championships, but he was a guy who was so passionate about racing.
"It's a different time nowadays, you don't really get the time to do loads of different categories. But he was a guy who managed to get to any car and win in whatever it was that he was driving, and I think that's probably the greatest sense of a complete driver. A driver who's able to step into any sort of car, is really fast, adaptable – he’s just special in the sense that he had pace in whatever he did. And at the same time, he's adaptable to the point where he could be driving a totally different type of car and just jump into it and start winning straightaway when it's a completely different driving style to probably anything else.
“Jim Clark is probably my greatest driving inspiration. Obviously, there's loads of other big names, people that you look up to. Even drivers today like Lewis Hamilton. For them to have the drive to keep striving for Championships after 15 years in the sport, that wouldn't even be something that I see now. It takes so much of your time, it's already so straining even being in Formula 2 and having 14 races a year, it's intense. So for these guys to be able to do it for 20 years straight is pretty impressive. But yeah, I think in terms of driver influence, I still pick Jim Clark as a great influence for me.”
“A guy who I've really looked up to is another driver, Nicklas Neilsen. I really look him as well, but he's done extremely well for himself because he was a guy that had practically no financial backing and was just racing and did it all for himself. He races in endurance now and he’s a part of a GT programme with Ferrari. He's a guy that I think was single-handedly one of the greatest karting racing drivers of all time.
"I basically arrived on the international scene in karting in 2014. And he was there at my first test at La Conca in the south of Italy. I knew that he was fast because, being the sort of classic fanboy that you are when you're eight to like, 12, I was literally watching every international race and obviously he was at the front all the time. So it's a bit daunting meeting the guy but he was super nice, super down to earth. But racing and being in a sport where you need some sort of financial backing in order to get yourself up the ladder, to have met this guy who started with pretty much nothing in karting, became a factory driver in karting and worked his way up to being able to race in endurance, big, big respect.
“He was probably an influence in the sense that he taught me a lot of things in the two, three years that we were together in karting. Because of him being four years older than me, it was like a big brother thing. Having a big brother figure in karting was useful because generally at that point, in time, I don't think my father was coming to as many races due to his illness, so it was important to have someone there who could teach me a lot of things and I think Nicklas is a driver who helped me a lot in karting.”