Thoughts from Smoylar, Novolak and Collet
FIA Formula 3: Congratulations to the top three finishers of Race 1 of the FIA Formula 3 Championship here at the Circuit de Catalunya. In third place, Caio Collet of MP Motorsport, in second place Clément Novalak for Trident, and taking his first win in Formula 3 our winner Alexander Smolyar for ART Grand Prix. Many congratulations Alex, a tremendous race by you. How does it feel to be a winner in F3?
Alexander Smoylar: To finally get a win is a great feeling for sure. Especially in a race like this where I made a good move in the beginning of the race and was comfortably leading until the last few laps. I am quite happy with the win and with the race as well.
FIA Formula 3: Tell us about that decisive move for the lead which came at the start of Lap 4 on Johnny Edgar for the lead.
Smolyar: We set up the car specifically for the dirty air, so it was much easier to drive behind Edgar. I knew that he might get some pace towards the end of the race, especially here in Barcelona where it is really hard to overtake. So, I knew that if I came close to him, I needed to overtake him. When I got close to him just before breaking, I knew I needed to send it because I might not have another chance to overtake. It worked and I'm quite happy!
FIA Formula 3: How much did you take out of your tyres doing that?
Smolyar: It was the first few laps, so everyone was pushing as much as they could. I'm sure Edgar was pushing too because he was trying to get out from the DRS zone. I was pushing, and as soon as I managed to get past him and pull away from the DRS zone, I tried to save my tyres because I saw that he was struggling a bit with the pace. I also really tried to save the tyres in the middle of the race, but it was a little bit tricky. We have references from the tests which were a few weeks ago in Barcelona, but the weather and track conditions were different then. Now, with how the conditions are on track, it's difficult to get the perfect set-up. It was challenging to drive in the clean air, but I'm happy I managed.
FIA Formula 3: Alex, you've got to do it all again later today. What are you expecting from Race 2?
Smolyar: Obviously there will be a different situation in Race 2, I will have to start in the middle of the pack. We will see how it goes. Again, it's really hard to overtake so in the beginning of the race I will try to make as many moves as possible and then see how it goes.
FIA Formula 3: Well good luck, and well done again. Clément, we’ll come to you now. Well done on your second podium in Formula 3, tell us how satisfied you are with the race?
Clément Novalak: I think it is actually my third! It was a good race in the end. From my side the crucial point was the start where I was quite aggressive and made a couple of moves. I think the reason I had a lot of pace at the end is because when I got behind Caio and Jonny I was saving tyres the whole time. I was trying to watch until they made a mistake, so I could try and take advantage of it. It's very nice to be on the podium, but it compromises the race a bit more later. It's bittersweet, but we'll see how it goes in the next race.
FIA Formula 3: What is the biggest factor in these races? What have we learnt in Race 1? Is it all about tyre preservation?
Novalak: I think the key is trying to time your moves. You can push for five laps trying to get past someone but if the likelihood of you getting by them is very slim then it kills your tyres and makes you vulnerable. So, it's about trying to time when to pass and manage when you can behind the others. I think that's the key to trying to get ahead.
FIA Formula 3: What happens now between this race and the race this afternoon? Is there the chance for you to relax, have a bit of a debrief, what are you plans?
Novalak: Well 22 laps isn't easy so I'll probably chill out for a bit... but no, I'll have a debrief with the engineers to try and understand the good and bad factors from the race so we can improve later on. Then I'll need to refocus. It's a bit weird to be honest, coming from last year where you only had one race every day to plunge back into it for another 22 laps. But it will be a good experience!
FIA Formula 3: Caio coming to you. What a tremendous first race for you in Formula 3, how does it good does it feel to kick things off with a podium?
Caio Collet: It feels really nice, first race, first podium. I think I missed out a little bit on the chance I had, my car was really great the whole race in both the dirty and clean air. I felt that I could have been P2 or even fighting for the win with Alex later on. On the other side of things, it's really good to start the season with a podium so I'm really pleased.
FIA Formula 3: You said earlier that you could have been more aggressive in this race, do you feel you were nursing the tyres too much or if the race had gone full distance without the safety car could you have been right in the mix at the end?
Collet: At the end, after I got past Jonny I had really good pace and was starting to catch Alex and Clém in front. The first opportunity when I overtook Jonny, I had to try and take it but I didn't make it, and then I lost the position to Clém and had to fight my way back to the podium. I think that's the point when I should have been a little more aggressive. It's tricky, because DRS is a bit new for me and I knew I had to push at the beginning to stay in the DRS zone but also to try and save the tyres.
FIA Formula 3: Congratulations to all three of you!