Sitting on the outskirts of Barcelona, Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya offers up a series of long sweeping turns and high-powered straights, which can prove difficult for overtaking. Having enjoyed his maiden victory in Formula 3 at the circuit last season, Olli was ready to return to the track and build upon his first few events in Formula 2 machinery.
A Rough Start
Out on track on Friday morning, the British driver was ready to lay down some fast laps. But unfortunately as he fired into Turn 9, he completely lost grip in the rear of the car and went spinning across the gravel, taking a heavy hit into the wall. Thankfully making his way out of the cockpit unharmed, Olli shook himself off and vowed to make amends in the remainder of the weekend.
Having no running for a reference point, the Campos driver head into the qualifying session relatively blind. But once on track, his pace was evident as he built up his confidence following his earlier crash. Making his final run with only 7 minutes left on the clock, Olli clocked in a 1.29.885 to place him P15 as he peeled into the pits. With some last minute track improvements resulting in faster laps, he was edged down to P18.
“It was a difficult quali after no running in free practice. However we ran through the program successfully and completed it without any issues. It’s all about regaining confidence for the two races this weekend”
Best finish of the year
With the packed F1 support schedule meaning that Formula 2 were on track late on Saturday evening. Having carried over a 3 place grid penalty from the previous round at Imola, Olli took the last spot on the grid, confident that he could make up places from there. That proved to be the case as he steadily managed to make up places to be running in 16th at the halfway stage.
Closing the gap to Cem Bölükbasi, the 19-year-old racer lined up his move perfectly to claim 15th position on lap 14. With incidents ahead promoting him further, Olli kept his nose clean to cross the line and score his best finishing position of P13.
The bittersweet comeback
Under the baking sun on Sunday morning, Olli lined up 18th on the grid eager to continue his forward momentum from Saturday's sprint race.
Shooting off the line, he made up ground as the lights went out and was running P16 as the pack filed through the opening lap. Unfortunately as they reached the chicane he was clipped by Hauger which sent him spinning, the incident deemed wholly Hauger’s fault his rival was handed a 5 second penalty.
With his strong pace wiped out, Olli dove into the pits to replace his damaged front wing. But never one to be deterred by a challenge, the Alpine Academy driver put his head down and looked to make the long strategy work for him.
Battling against the heat and his rivals, Olli took care of his tyres enough to be in 5th place before making his mandatory pit stop with just 6 laps left to run. The comeback from his first lap tangle proving to be bittersweet as he emerged from the pits in 18th place, where his pace was proving to be worthy of points. However with fresh tyres, the talented racer boosted himself to claim 4 places in the final few laps of the race.
Scoring a strong 14th place, Olli sealed off his best weekend in Formula 2 so far:
“Judging by position at the end of lap 1, points were very much on the cards. I think the races have been my best yet. Overall we just need to work on qualifying well and we will be fighting for points!”
Olli Caldwell will be back in action in just a few days time, when he has his first taste of racing on the iconic streets of Monaco on 27th–29th May.