Clement Novalak hailed his 10th place finish in the first FIA Formula 3 race of 2020 as “payback” for a frustrating Qualifying session, with the Frenchman set to start on reverse pole in Race 2 tomorrow.

The Carlin racer was running around half a tenth off pole on his final push lap of Qualifying, before getting stuck in traffic on the last two corners, which halted his progress and left him down in 14th.

He clawed his way up to 10th in an exciting season opener, handing him his first points in the Championship, and pole position under the new reverse grid rules.

“I am happy to get the reverse grid pole and I think that we have got good pace in racing conditions,” he began.

“It was a hell of an experience to be honest. Having so many close fights and the DRS to get used to was cool. It was quite intense, but I really enjoyed it.”

Despite nabbing reverse pole, the Frenchman admits that he left the race with a tinge of disappointment, having been unable to pass Alexander Smolyar in P9 and make up further positions.

He explained why tyre degradation and traffic played a part in this, saying: “I couldn’t really get passed {Smolyar} towards the end, because once you are following in a train, you can’t really back off, or let the tyres cool down, so in the end, tyre deg did play a part. I think that we could have been a bit quicker in clean air.”

The Frenchman has high expectations of himself for his maiden F3 campaign (attach pre-season interview article), but despite securing his first front row start in the Championship, says he won’t be piling the pressure on himself just yet.

“The plan is to get a good start obviously. I think Oscar {Piastri} showed pretty well that if you build a gap early enough in the first couple of laps and get out of DRS range, then it can be quite useful considering the guys behind will probably be fighting.

“However, it is my first weekend and ultimately I am here to learn. I think that generally I am just looking forward to tomorrow when I will try and do a good race and hopefully get a result out of it.”