Leaving Sakhir after three days of pre-season testing, some question marks hang over Trident’s head. However, with the pecking order far from set, the Italian team are prepared to give it their all to push the team forward in 2023.

Though they are fielding a new-look Formula 2 line-up, their young challengers are more than familiar faces to the team. Clément Novalak reunites with the team that helped carry him to third in the 2021 Formula 3 Standings, as he looks to bounce back following a challenging maiden campaign. Meanwhile, Roman Stanek remains with them for his graduation to the second tier and is eager to stamp his place on the grid.

Developing a strong working partnership can be vital to a team who are wanting to improve after a chequered ‘22 campaign. Finishing ninth in the Teams’ Standings might not have been what they were hoping for, but Team Manager Giacomo Ricci says he’s already seeing the benefits of the pair’s cooperation.

“The atmosphere between Clém and Roman is great. They are helping each other; they’re helping the team with their feedback and there is a really positive atmosphere within the team. They are working hard in order to move the team up generally speaking.

“Besides the fact that we had some mechanical issue during the three days of testing, we’ve been able to complete the plan, so I’m quite happy. Let’s see what we will be able to achieve in Bahrain for the first race.”

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Testing around the Bahrain International Circuit wasn’t all they would have hoped for. Clocking in 286 laps in total left them slightly adrift of their rivals in terms of mileage. However, it was not all doom and gloom, with Novalak demonstrating their car’s pace and capabilities across both long and short runs, netting a P2 and P7 result in the final day’s showing.

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Reflecting on the ups and downs of the test, the French driver remained upbeat and was logical about how much emphasis to place on performances at this early stage.

“I feel pretty good after this test. It’s very difficult to say much ahead of Qualifying on Friday next week, but overall, I feel pretty confident and looking forward to a great year ahead with Trident. We worked extremely well together in 2021 and in this preseason test already, we've made some good steps forward. So just looking forward to the rest of the year with them.”

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Echoing his teammate’s thoughts, Stanek says that while the team didn’t quite achieve what they wanted to, the signs were looking positive. After addressing the need to work on his race simulations and adapting to the switch between two compounds for the first time, the Czech driver’s hunger is undiminished. Although he has some uncertainty as to where he stands compared to his rivals, Stanek believes the potential is there to thrive in the new environment.

“I have quite a mixed feeling because I don’t know where exactly to place myself. I don’t know if it’s top five, top 10 or top 15. It will be a little surprise for me, but I will keep pushing and give my best and hope for a good result. I’m sure if I do my best and if I have the car in the window, I can take pole position.

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“We did more race runs and I focused myself on them because that’s something that’s very important in Formula 2. It’s one of the key points, especially in Bahrain, so let’s see. But I think we did quite a good job in the race runs pace-wise.

“Now I’ll be doing my mental training with visualisations and some breathing work. This is very important for me as a driver especially and as a person. Now it’s not about lifting heavy weights and doing crazy fitness stuff because I did it during the winter, so it’s just final preparations.

“The key is to get into the right mindset in order to be able to extract the best in the race week. I’m really looking forward to because I don’t know where I will be. I know I have the ability to be fast and also the team does, so let’s go! Let’s send it because if I don’t send it, I don’t enjoy life like this. It’s the same if I do any sports, I want to be the best – even if I play football with my friends.”

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Trident’s three days of running were more than just about lap times and counts on the board. Given the similarities in conditions between the testing sessions and what they’ll experience during the opening round, harvesting enough data could be worth valuable seconds on track.

For Ricci, establishing the clearest picture possible of their drivers’ and car’s strengths and weaknesses has been the target. By doing so, they’ve set themselves a solid foundation for the sessions ahead – particularly as Novalak seeks to overcome his one-lap pace struggles that held him back from more regular points-scoring appearances last year.

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“We’ve focused the most on car development and plenty of things that the engineers planned to test in Bahrain. As we know in F2, like in Formula 3, testing is limited so it’s important to sometimes sacrifice a little bit of the performance in order to collect data, to clear all the possible doubts and arrive to the race weekend with the best package that we can deliver for the driver and the team.

“One positive is the performance that we have been able to achieve during the long runs. I think we made a good step forward considering our target and I’m curious to see our performance during the first weekend in Bahrain.”

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Novalak added: “It’s no secret that I think the most important session in Formula 2 is Qualifying, so I think the key preparation going into next week is maximising our short run pace on the softs. In Bahrain, Qualifying is important as it’s not an easy track to overtake on. Even though you do have a very long main straight, it’s a difficult track to pass on.

“I think that’s going to be the key focus the majority of the time before heading in Race 1 and Race 2, where then we’ll focus on long run pace. Basically, looking at how to nail Qualifying and we’ll look at a broad range of things.”

Adopting a positive outlook, the sense of energy, enthusiasm and drive over at the Trident garage is in full force. Enduring a few bumps in testing, the signs are there for them to shine – as they did when they took victory in the opening Sprint Race in Sakhir 12 months ago.