Thoughts from Doohan, Vesti and Novalak
FIA Formula 3: It’s a very warm welcome to the top three finishers of the FIA Formula 3 Championship season finale here at the Sochi Autodrom. In third place Clément Novalak for Trident, in second place Frederick Vesti for ART and taking his fourth victory of the season, our winner Jack Doohan. Jack, many congratulations, that was a great drive. How important was it to round out the season with a win?
Jack Doohan: Yeah, quite important, just for myself as well. It was a very difficult Friday, I made a mistake on the opening lap into Turn 1 and kind of ruined the race from there, where was unfortunate, I was very disappointed in myself, then the championship was over. So it was good to bounce back today and be able to finish the weekend and the season on a high.
FIA Formula 3: In the race itself you had a tremendous battle with your team-mate Clément Novalak. How was the car and how much were you having to push throughout the race?
Doohan: Yeah, I was struggling quite a bit through the first three corners of the race. I wasn’t entirely comfortable you could say, with the balance. Towards the end I was able to wear the fronts a little bit more and go forward on the bias. As soon as the front tyres started to wear, I was able to push out a bit of a gap. I did my quickest lap with like three laps to go or something. As soon as that started to go, I was able to manage the car a bit better and get it to places where I wanted it to be.
FIA Formula 3: I think there were a few nervous people on the pit wall during the race. I think you were told not to battle with your team-mate. How well did that message go down with you?
Doohan: Yeah, you know, we’re fighting for our careers. It’s a Feature Race win, Vesti was quick, so I thought if I go back to second I’m probably going to go back to third. Either way, obviously I was never going to be in a position to crash with Clem. But I wanted to have a good crack at the win, like any race driver would. I understand where they’re coming from, but nevertheless I’m happy with the win.
FIA Formula 3: Final one from me, how do you reflect on this season?
Doohan: I think we have to take the positives. We’re the best qualifier of the season and we’ve taken the most points in the main race, the Feature Race, in the season, bar one point over Dennis. If you take into consideration, Formula 1 don’t do reverse grid races, they just have qualifying and a main race. We’ve topped both of those boxes, just a little bit of bad luck and one mistake in Zandvoort in the reverse grid races which in the end brough down my championship. I’m disappointed not to win, for sure, and I think it’s going to take a while to get over that. I’m happy to win today, but also I want to win. Hopefully whatever I’m doing next year, I can go one better.
FIA Formula 3: Fred, coming to you, your fifth podium of the season. Your best finish since the Red Bull Ring, how happy are you? Just sum up that race.
Frederick Vesti: First of all, I’m really happy with today’s race. It’s been a really tough season since Austria, bad qualifyings, tough races, I think I was in the podium for P3 in Zandvoort, so it’s good to be back on the podium. We definitely were in contention for the win today, P2 is a pretty good result and I’m really happy to finish the race this way, and we’ll move on.
FIA Formula 3: Had you passed Clément earlier, do you think you had the pace to challenge Jack?
Vesti: I think we were fast at some point, but also it was difficult when Jack was in front, and Clément was having the DRS all the time. I really had to push hard and use my tyres. So when I eventually caught them, my tyres were almost done. Every lap was a fight not to lose out. So I was happy to finish P2 for sure.
FIA Formula 3: It’s the season finale, can we get your thoughts on the season as a whole?
Vesti: It’s really been up and down. We started the first three races being right in contention for the championship and in Hungary, Spa and Zandvoort, it was really difficult. Quite poor qualifyings basically made it almost impossible to score a lot of points each weekend. That qualifying performance in those three races were our biggest problem this year. But it’s good to bounce back in Sochi, a track I’ve never been to. So I’m pretty happy with that.
FIA Formula 3: Clément coming to you, well done to you, your fourth podium of the year. It looked like you had really good pace out there too.
Clément Novalak: Yeah, to be honest, from the first sort of, ten laps of the race, I was there trying to save tyres essentially, because I had the benefit of being in DRS so I could sort of not push them too hard in the last sector and hang on. I tried to make a move, the first one was nice, the second one I probably braked a little bit too late and to be fair, Jack got me back on the exit. It was my mistake in that sense. It’s good to finish P3. I was lucky that there was a big enough gap behind to Fred, because my tyres were pretty much shot at the end through all the fighting. It was nice, it was nice to finish off this way. I’m really happy to bring the Teams’ Championship to Trident because the amount of work they did throughout the season, let alone this weekend while knee-deep in water on Saturday, so really pleased for that.
FIA Formula 3: Can we get your reaction to the radio messages that were flying around during the race? Were they necessary? How much did you did you discuss the Teams’ Championship before the start?
Novalak: It was really important from the team’s standpoint because from myself, I was obviously under pressure from Victor and Fred being quite close being in the championship, when Jack was pretty much alone by himself 20 points in front. That’s why I think I was pushing quite a bit, seeing Fred catch us up from behind. But for sure, our intention was to get a one-two from the beginning. Obviously it didn’t pan out how we wanted to, but we still scored the points we needed to get it. So yeah, extremely happy with that.
FIA Formula 3: Final one from me, it is the season finale, I’ve asked the other two so I’ll ask you as well – can you just sum up the season for us please?
Novalak: Pretty much like Fred, to be honest, up and down. The consistency in qualifying was almost too good, being on the third row pretty much every race apart from this last one. It was full of ups and downs, it was a good championship, but any championship is a rollercoaster. We can be happy with P3 in the championship considering some bad luck sometimes in Free Practice that hindered our qualifying pace. Overall I’m pleased, looking at the positives and taking it forward onto next year.