Clement Novalak was born in France, and grew up in Switzerland, but can consider Silverstone as a home event. The Carlin Buzz driver races under the British flag, having moved to Hertfordshire aged 14. Naturally, he was “really happy,” to have sealed a podium in Race 2.
The main talking point on Sunday was the battle between Alex Smolyar and David Beckmann for first, as the ART Grand Prix driver was later stripped of his victory with a post-race time penalty for changing direction too often down the straight in an attempt to break the tow.
What seems to have been forgotten is just how close Novalak was to the duo. The Carlin Buzz racer finished just 0.4s off Beckmann, and could quite conceivably have taken the win himself.
“It was a very tight race between the three of us up front and our pace was very similar,” he recalled. “I think we all struggled with the tyres towards the end as well.
“This made it very difficult to have any pace advantage on them and capitalise with a move or a mistake. Generally speaking, I am really happy.
“Obviously the consistency has been a bit up and down this season, so to come here and get a podium in the second race, after a good Race 1, where I got the fastest lap, I think it shows that we’ve clearly got a good package.”
The podium was Novalak’s second in his rookie season of Formula 3, a pleasing return from the French-Swiss driver considering Carlin’s disappointing 2019 campaign, when the historic British outfit failed to take a single podium, and finished second from last in the Teams’ Championship.
It’s been quite the turnaround for Carlin this year. The British side have a rich history in junior motorsport, but just couldn’t get to grips with the F3 car last season. Novalak praised his team for their improvements this season, although admitted he feels things could have been even better.
“It is a difficult Championship because of the limited testing,” he said. “You have really got to arrive and hit the ground running, and I think that in a couple of places, we have struggled to do that, both on the driving side and also in the car. It has been tough to get everything back and ready for Qualifying.
“I think we have made a step forward, and we've got a better understanding of how to setup the car and how I need to drive it, which is obviously extremely important.
“We have just got to keep working, keep trying to understand things, keep trying to improve my driving and hopefully the results will start to come.”