MP Motorsport’s Clément Novalak says that Friday’s Qualifying session at Imola will be his ”number one focus” for the race weekend, as he looks to make improvements on his one-lap pace.

At the opening two rounds of the year in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, Novalak qualified in 18th and 11th respectively, and has failed to record a Championship point.

The French driver will be racing in Imola for the first time this weekend, where unpredictable weather conditions are set to play a part.

But as Novalak is expecting overtaking in the races to be tricky, he says that ensuring he starts higher up in the order will be an important factor in his hunt to add to his point tally.

“I really need to improve on my Qualifying pace to target strong point finishes and so on,” he said. “That’s the number one thing I need to focus on. My target would be to do a good job in Qualifying.

“It’s probably going to rain, weather that we don’t really know. We’re in bloody Italy and we’re getting British weather – it’s freezing, it’s cold, it’s wet. So it’s going to throw some spanners in the works and hopefully it will make it a fun weekend.

“I think Qualifying will be a major factor in terms of how the race is going to go. Obviously with these cars we can still follow, we can still pass. I think the passes will be a bit more ballsy than other tracks! But it should be cool to watch and hopefully good to race.”

Alongside Novalak at the MP Motorsport team is Felipe Drugovich, who enters the Imola round leading the Drivers’ Championship with one pole position and one victory to his name.

Novalak believes he has the fastest teammate on the grid, and hopes to learn from the Brazilian following his own tricky start to the 2022 campaign.

“You can think of it (the first two rounds) in many ways, negative in the sense that we didn’t deliver compared to Felipe who has had an amazing start to the season, I think so. Positive-wise, I think I’ve got the fastest team-mate out there, so the most I can learn is probably from him.

“That’s the positive I look into. Since those two rounds we’ve had the tests in Barcelona, made some good ground. Hopefully this weekend goes well.

“I’m definitely a lot more confident going into the European rounds. This one, I’ve never been here before so that will be a challenge for everyone, but I’m looking forward to it.”