Gloucestershire’s Zak O’Sullivan made a commanding start to his 2021 British F3 Championship campaign at Brands Hatch with a victory, a third place and the weekend’s fastest lap giving him a deserved early lead in the standings.
The 16-year-old BRDC Superstars member was stepping up to the faster F3 machinery after an impressive maiden season in single-seaters in 2020, where he finished runner-up in the British F4 championship.
O’Sullivan immediately looked at home in a strong field, taking his Carlin machine to third on the grid for his first race in the category and backing that up in the race, finishing on the tail of the experienced Ayrton Simmons (Chris Dittman Racing) and fellow F4 graduate Ollie Bearman (Fortec).
Drama ensued at the start of the second race on Sunday, with O’Sullivan taking a watching brief as Simmons challenged Bart Horsten for the lead at Druids, colliding with the Hitech machine and landing on top of it, allowing the #51 Carlin through into first.
O’Sullivan was rarely troubled during the shortened 10-lap encounter, cut from its usual length when Alex Fores (Chris Dittman Racing) span off on the formation lap after a brief rain shower. He led home Bearman by more than two seconds, taking the fastest lap of the meeting into the bargain.
With a full reverse grid awaiting the drivers for Sunday’s finale, O’Sullivan faced the prospect of fighting through from 17th place on a circuit not noted for its overtaking opportunities. This he did with aplomb, passing 10 cars en route to seventh at the flag, just six seconds behind race winner and team-mate Christian Mansell.
O’Sullivan, from Withington, near Cirencester, said: “I’ve set out to approach this season in the same way as last year, just taking every session as it comes – and that has worked very well for me this weekend.
“I didn’t make a very good start in the second race but the two in front of me collided and I took the lead. In a way, it was gifted to me but I was happy with the pace I showed and I was able to gap the cars behind me pretty quickly.
“I’m really happy to have taken my first win in F3 so quickly and, as the other two races show, it’s going to be really important to be consistent this season. I’m looking forward to racing at Silverstone already.”
O’Sullivan leaves Brands Hatch on 78 points, four ahead of Bearman and 17 clear of Reece Ushijima (Hitech). Rounds four, five and six of the championship take place on the iconic Silverstone GP circuit over the weekend of June 26-27.