After impressing with an unexpected pole position in qualifying, Williams Academy driver Zak O’Sullivan went on to snatch his first FIA F3 podium at both his and his team Carlin’s home race.
Following a very busy Thursday full of ‘Home GP’ media activities, Zak went into Friday morning practice with good momentum. After 4 weeks of hard work off-track, the car proved to have plenty of pace on the dry track, and at the end of the session Zak sat in P7 - a very positive start to the weekend.
As the day progressed the weather began to change, and the Northamptonshire circuit witnessed rain showers that would dampen the tarmac ahead of the Formula 3 qualifying session. In the end the track was damp but dry enough for slicks, and ultimately proved good conditions for Zak to put down some strong laps. After the first qualifying stint the was in P10, with room still to improve but, as the session was drawing to a close, Zak pushed his #26 car on an outstanding lap that saw him ascend to the top of the timesheet at his home venue. The 17-year-old not only secured his first ever FIA F3 pole position but also Carlin’s first of the F3 era.
In Saturday’s Sprint race with the part-reversed grid, Zak lined up in 12th. He used the race to prepare for Sunday, pushing the car and collecting important data, eventually crossing the line P14.
The real excitement came on Sunday when the 17-year-old British star lined up on pole position for the feature race. Following a very strong start he managed to retain P1, holding off championship contender Arthur Leclerc. After the Prema’s extreme pace and use of DRS eventually allowed him to push past, Zak stuck to the back of him, remaining in his mirrors lap after lap.
Two Safety Car periods neutralised the race, but Zak kept position with some good restarts in front of the home crowd. Collet behind him was soon under pressure from O’Sullivan’s fellow BRDC Superstar Oliver Bearman, who eventually passed and looked to challenge the #26 Carlin. Despite the Prema putting Zak under extreme pressure in the final lap, he crossed the line in P2, securing his first F3 podium and the team’s first in two years.
Off the back of his home success, Zak will travel straight to Austria in the hopes of recreating the performance at Round 5 of the championship.