17-year-old Zak O’Sullivan took part in his first ever Formula 1 test yesterday at Silverstone Circuit. The career-defining opportunity was given as the principal prize for him winning the prestigious Autosport Young Driver of the Year Award earlier this year.
Over a three-hour period on Tuesday afternoon, the Williams Academy driver took a 2021-spec Formula 1 car on 32 laps of the iconic Silverstone Circuit. Starting the session on wets for an installation lap of the Northamptonshire track, he quickly adjusted to the speed and power of the hybrid-era F1 machine. Following a switch to fresh slicks, Zak’s lap times continued to tumble, becoming more confident with each flying lap. The Autosport and BRDC experts and the team’s engineers were very impressed with his ability to get to grips with the car and reported that he delivered strong feedback in debriefs.
Image credit: Motorsport Images
Back in February, on the day of his 17th birthday, O’Sullivan was crowned the winner of the esteemed Young Driver of the Year award in front of the biggest names in motorsport at the JW Marriott Grosvenor House Hotel in London, following in the footsteps of current F1 stars Lando Norris and George Russell. The reward for this accolade included an F1 test, a new Arai race helmet and £200,000 in prize money.
Just two days prior he had been announced as the newest member of the Williams Racing Driver Academy, a significant moment in his young but noteworthy career. These events followed an outstanding season in the GB3 Championship, where he was crowned Champion with a 164-point margin. This past season saw him step up to FIA Formula 3 with Carlin Racing, where the London-born racer exceeded all expectations, achieving multiple podiums and out-scoring his teammates.
This hugely successful F1 test will surely be the first of many for the single-seater ace, who plays a key role in development and simulator work through his role at Williams Racing.
Describing his first taste of an F1 car, Zak said, “It was an amazing experience to drive an F1 car for the first time. It’s a big step up from anything I’ve ever driven before but I absolutely loved it. I gained more confidence with every lap and was really pushing hard by the end!”
Zak’s coach and founder of Kokoro Performance, Kieren Clark, added: “We are incredibly pleased - and not at all surprised! - with Zak’s top-notch performance at his first F1 test. Together we have been preparing for an opportunity like this for several years, and he showed today why he was crowned winner of the award in the first place.”