Points-Scoring Weekend For Zak in FIA F3 Debut

On the opening weekend of the 2022 FIA Formula 3 Championship in Bahrain, O'Sullivan achieved a P6 finish in the Sprint Race, bringing home points on his debut.

 

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The first outing of the 2022 Formula 3 season took place on a bright, be it slightly breezy, morning in Bahrain. As an opportunity to get some running ahead of Qualifying, the practice session saw all 30 cars head out for race and qualifying simulations to prepare. Completing a race run and two performance runs, Zak pushed his #26 machine for 17 laps on a busy track. Whilst the result was not fully representative of the car’s true pace, Zak and the team were able to understand the positive and negative effects of the changes they had made since testing.

 

Qualifying was when Zak really came into his own, heading out amongst his 29 peers for the 30-minute session feeling content with the feedback from practice.  At around 15 minutes Zak pitted for a set of new tyres, sitting in an already impressive P16. After a good stop, Zak was released back onto track first and led the pack around on two out-laps before pushing. A strong lap saw him place his car in 12th, giving him pole position for Saturday’s Sprint Race in which the Top 12 from qualifying are reversed. Zak’s Quali result saw him ahead of both teammates and a number of competitive cars – a fantastic outcome on his debut.

 

The first race day of 2022 was a hot one, with the week’s strong winds finally easing, and the sun beating down on the Sakir circuit. Despite lining up for his first ever FIA F3 race on pole position, Zak remained calm and collected through the morning, talking strategy with his engineer and coach. Knowing tyre degradation would be their main concern, the team placed the poleman on new tyres. As the lights went out Zak had a good start, maintaining position into Turn 1, battling with fellow rookie Oliver Bearman. The pair soon pulled ahead of the pack, with Zak defending superbly from the Prema driver’s extreme pace. Following a valiant defence, Bearman eventually pushed past and, without the pace to catch him, Zak turned his attention to the drivers behind. Unfortunately, the Carlin driver couldn’t maintain the same race pace while managing his tyres, and soon the #26 began to drop back. Despite this, Zak drove gallantly and was able to bring his car home in P6, picking up points and exceeding many expectations.

 

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Having used his new tyres in Saturday’s Sprint Race, Zak and the team knew that Sunday’s Feature Race would prove a more difficult one. The grid for the race was determined by Friday’s Qualifying result, so Zak lined up in P11 following a penalty issued to another driver. In the first few laps some outstanding moves by the young Brit saw him step up to P9, but as time went on the consequences of using older tyres became apparent and he began to drop back through the pack. Still driving to the best of his ability, Zak impressed with hard-fought defence as well as successfully avoiding the drama around him that brought out a Safety Car and Virtual Safety Car. Crossing the line in P19 was not the result the Carlin racer had hoped for, but the young rookie learnt a huge amount on his debut weekend.

 

The #26 car is back on track for more testing in Jerez and Barcelona, and then will take on Round 2 of the championship on 22nd-24th April.