O'Sullivan Returns To Podium On Zandvoort Debut

At the penultimate round of the FIA Formula 3 Championship, Zak O’Sullivan achieved his second podium of his debut season. Despite being the 17-year-old’s first time at the Dutch circuit, he was able to place his #26 Carlin machine into the podium positions in Saturday’s Sprint Race.

After a busy Thursday of meetings and media activities, F3 took to the track on Friday morning for their free practice session. This gave first-time drivers at the circuit, including Zak, a chance to gain an understanding of the banked 2.5km track. 

The #26 Carlin car showed some good pace in Qualifying, setting some decent laps in the first half of the session that saw him push into the Top 10. With track evolution extremely high, Zak expected to only improve on this. Frustratingly, qualifying was red-flagged after an incident for Alatalo at Turn 3. With under a minute left of the session, the cars returned to the pits whilst the Jenzer car was recovered. With such limited time remaining, the session was brought to a premature end and Zak was unable to further improve on 10th position. Nonetheless, the Williams Academy driver would line up in P3 for Saturday’s Sprint Race due to the Top 12 being reversed.

On Saturday Zak lined up on the second row behind two ART GP cars - including Correa who he had battled intensely with last weekend at Spa. Being a tight right hairpin corner, achieving a good run down into Turn 1 would be crucial for the F3 drivers, in particular those fighting at the front. Zak had a very strong and controlled launch, darting to the right and taking P2 from Saucy straight away. Caio Collet also had an impressive start, taking the wider outside line and pushing into podium positions. With blistering pace, he passed Zak into second and then Correa to take the lead of the race. Running in P3, Zak drove well to maintain his position demonstrating his composure under pressure. During the latter stages of the race, he successfully held off Edgar behind him to cross the line for his second podium of the season. The Carlin and Williams Racing crews gathered under the podium to celebrate another strong drive from Zak in what has proven to be a tricky season.

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For Sunday’s early-morning Feature Race, Zak lined up on the grid just inside the Top 10. He had clean opening laps, avoiding the chaos of the 30-car grid on a tight circuit and maintained his position. During the second of three Safety Car periods, he was clipped from behind by an ART GP car but was able to continue. With a few laps to go, Zak found himself being chased by Prema’s championship contender Oliver Bearman, who dived down the inside at Turn 9 and the two came together. The incident caused Zak to drop down two places, and when another Safety Car was brought out due to a stranded Van Amersfoort, it meant he did not have the opportunity to regain the positions. Frustratingly, both drivers were awarded penalties post-race, meaning although Zak crossed the line in 12th, he would ultimately be classified in P23.

Despite the disappointment of Sunday’s race result, Zak’s weekend in Zandvoort was overall strong, with Safety Car and red flag periods having a huge impact on the racing.