This weekend’s Hungarian GP saw 17-year-old ace Zak O’Sullivan climb from P22 to P4 in Sunday’s F3 Feature Race. The Williams Racing Academy driver pitted for slick tyres just seven laps from the end, re-joining way outside of the Top 20 before storming through the field to cross the line in 4th.
Beginning with Friday’s Free Practice session, Zak showed good potential despite never having raced at the famous Hungaroring before. In the afternoon’s qualifying the Carlin driver looked on-pace, however disaster struck when the #26 machine suffered an issue as he began his final push lap, causing a red flag whilst the car was recovered. With no opportunity to improve his qualifying time he subsequently lined up in P22 for both the Sprint and Feature races.
The results of qualifying left Zak with a lot of work to do in the races, but he approached both with a determined attitude. On the day of the Sprint Race, the Pest County region experienced very heavy rainfall, causing the start to be behind the safety car. In a race littered with yellow flags Zak was able to climb four positions in the poor visibility, ultimately finishing in P18.
Heading into Sunday, the young Brit hoped to advance on his performance from the day before, gaining places and staying out of trouble in tricky conditions. After the lights went out, he quickly progressed into P17. For many laps he chased down 16th and was soon fighting for the position, but frustratingly experienced no further progress on the ever-drying track. Realising the situation, Zak asked to box for slick tyres, being only one of around five drivers on the thirty-strong field to take the risk.
Re-joining outside of the Top 20 he had work to do, but with fresher tyres the Williams Academy driver thundered through the pack, performing impressive overtake after impressive overtake on more experienced drivers. With two laps to go the F3 Rookie was un-relenting, storming at first into the Top 10 and then onwards towards podium positions, closing in on the PREMA in P3 as the chequered flag fell. If there had been just one more lap of the race it looked certain that Zak would have achieved a podium – or even the race win! Across all F3, F2, F1 and W Series contests that weekend, Zak gained more places than any other driver in a single race.
This was a brilliant result for Zak and the team heading into the summer break, and fans across the world commended the 17-year-old on his incredible performance. The P4 finish meant Zak added 13 points to his tally with three rounds to go in the season.
Round 7 of the FIA F3 Championship takes place on 26-28 August at the iconic Spa-Francorchamps as part of an intense triple-header