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F2 Zandvoort

F2: Zandvoort Feature Race top three on ‘extremely physical’ and ‘tough’ weekend

The Formula 2 weekend at Zandvoort has seen a lot of drama and chaos in the on-track sessions

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Formula 2’s Feature Race at Zandvoort saw Clement Novalak achieve his first race win in the championship ahead of Zane Maloney and Jak Crawford. FormulaNerds spoke to the three podium-sitters about the weekend as a whole and how difficult conditions were at the physically demanding Dutch circuit.

F2 Zandvoort Novalak
Race winner Clement Novalak celebrates in parc ferme during the Round 12:Zandvoort Feature race of the Formula 2 Championship. (Photo by Joe Portlock – Formula 1/Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images)

Formula 2 raced at Zandvoort this weekend for Round 12 of the 2023 season. Théo Pourchaire was leading the championship ahead of the weekend with Frederik Vesti not too far behind.

With only three rounds left, this weekend was key for the championship contenders. However, not everything went to plan and others were able to capitalise on the chaos.

A weekend overview

Qualifying saw Jak Crawford take pole position as red flags were brought out during the session. The Sprint Race, which would have seen Pourchaire on reverse grid pole, was unfortunately cancelled. The race did begin but there was a first-lap incident between Kush Maini and Crawford, which Ralph Boschung also got caught up in. Race control then made the decision to suspend the race as visibility with the rain wasn’t safe.

The focus was then on today’s Feature Race. However, several red flags were brought out and the top six in the championship scored no points. Théo Pourchaire, Frederik Vesti and Jack Doohan all DNF’d after separate incidents resulting in them being unable to continue. Oliver Bearman was forced to retire after damage sustained from contact with Victor Martins.  Martins then received a 10-second penalty and Ayumu Iwasa also received a penalty putting him outside the points as well.

As a result of the aforementioned retirements and penalties, Clement Novalak took his first F2 race win. The Trident driver began the race in P13 but finished on the top step of the podium. Zane Maloney then finished the race in second whilst his fellow Red Bull Junior Crawford rounded out the top three.

After the race, in the post-race press conference, FormulaNerds spoke to the top three. We asked them how challenging the weekend was given the conditions and reduced running time.

‘Extremely physical’ and ‘particularly challenging’

Asked by FormulaNerds, Novalak expressed his thoughts on the weekend, which saw him score maximum Feature Race points taking his total to 28. The Frenchman said:

“From my side, I think obviously it is extremely physical. From a physical standpoint, as drivers, we really are put through our paces out here.

“We were talking about it in the cool-down room, put your elbow on the tub and you just hope the car doesn’t snap and go around the corners that way. As a whole, it was particularly challenging this year because we obviously went a step softer with the compound on the hard to the medium, which was definitely an extra spanner in the work.”

After touching on F2 using the mediums instead of the hards this year, Novalak continued:

“Apart from that though, it is still an extremely challenging track but it’s quite difficult to overtake on and that factors in. The fact that we cancel the race yesterday was a bit shame. I would’ve wanted to do some laps but it was too dangerous.”

Novalak’s thoughts were echoed by his fellow podium-sitters. Maloney, who has yet to win an F2 race this year, reiterated how physcial the track can be.

Maloney’s thoughts on chaotic weekend

The Bajan driver said:

“It is a very physical track, the most on the calendar. There are so many back-to-back high-speed right-handers, the rear left is screaming the whole lap, which is difficult to deal with during the race so it’s physically hard and also mentally hard to keep it on the track.”

Maloney continued expressing how the Sprint Race cancellation also affected running for the rest of he weekend. He told FormulaNerds:

“In terms of not getting to run yesterday, it would’ve been in the wet so it wouldn’t have shown anything for today. They made the right decision yesterday but of course a lot less driving in general, with all the red flags in qualifying, dirty track in practice.

“We didn’t get much driving this weekend, which made it difficult to be on it but same for everyone. So hoping we can have a bit less chaos in Monza, but it’ll probably be more.”

Crawford: Zandvoort is a ‘tough’ track

Crawford, who was on pole, also admitted that Zandvoort is a track that “absolutely keeps you on your toes.” He told FormulaNerds that around the Dutch circuit you “have to be so precise.”

So when drivers are sent out on a wet track, “it just creates chaos.” Crawford continued saying:

“And as well yesterday, it was so wet. I was involved in the crash. I think Kush couldn’t even see, it was so wet, and that’s what caused the crash.

“So a bit of a tough one yesterday and obviously with the tyres and physicality of the track, it’s such a tough one yesterday. And when you’re pushing for the top three and fighting for the win, you’re absolutely bringing everything out. When you go into the fastest corner on the track with a massive snap and it’s 39 laps into the race, it’s quite challenging to keep it on track.”

Next up is Monza. With momentum from this weekend’s success for the top three, two questions remain: will Monza be as chaotic as Zandvoort? And who will come out on top?

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