After a fantastic weekend at Monza, just a couple weeks ago, Olli went from his best weekend in the Italian F4 championship to what would be his most frustrating with nothing going his way at Misano. Olli picked up two penalties over the three races which was hard to take given how others were judged at times. However, there were plenty of positives to take into Imola with Olli’s pace very impressive despite being down on track time once again due to GSCE exam commitments.
Not for the first time this season Olli was a late arrival to the circuit having had a GSCE exam to complete on Friday morning, but the now 16-year-old would arrive to the circuit on Friday afternoon just in time for free practice two. Olli was straight on the pace finishing the session in 10th place just 0.4 seconds off a top three spot.
Saturday morning would see two qualifying sessions take place as ever and Olli qualified in 10th and 8th place. It wasn’t ideal given he was now 2nd in the championship chasing down Leonardo Lorandi, but it was positive after he had missed out on testing and pre-race preparations.
Race one saw Olli start from 8th and a good start put him up to 7th before we had even reached turn one. Olli was immediately battling for 6th and crucially he was battling with his championship rival Lorandi. The Italian was understandably defending heavily but Olli was quickly able to find a way past and was now after the top five. Throughout the first half of the race Olli began to close in on Federico Malvestiti and was starting to be held up as he closed in allowing the top four to escape.
Despite piling on the pressure Olli wasn’t quite able to find a way through and being delayed started to see him come under some pressure himself with Giorgio Carrara slowly closing in. Olli would never find a clear-cut opportunity to get through so would have to settle for 6th which was a decent start to the weekend especially considering Lorandi had finished in 8th.
For race two Olli would start in 10th place but he was under pressure to get a good start with Enzo Fittipaldi and Lorandi on the front row. Olli would do just that going straight into 7th place before he had even reached turn one! Going into the double right hander of turn four Olli took advantage of a move that hadn’t quite gone to plan going around the outside of Ian Rodriguez to take 6th. Approaching the end of the lap ahead Carrara had ran wide through turn eleven leaving a gap on the inside going into turn 12. Olli immediately went for the move but Carrara had other ideas and as we Olli approached the apex he made contact which led Carrara to spin around and saw Olli drop two places.
The safety car was immediately deployed with Olli now 7th and still a long way to go in the race! As we restarted Olli quickly began to put the pressure on Gregoire Saucy as he attempted to get his 5th place back. As a heated battle ensured for 2nd Olli did just that picking up a position with 3rd place, Lorandi, now at arm’s length. However, the battle was intensifying as more drivers joined the party in what was a thoroughly entertaining race to watch.
As we saw pictures of Olli’s teammate, Gianluca Petecof, in the pits on track Olli had made his move for 5th and now had Lorandi directly ahead of him with just over seven minutes still to go. On track Olli was able to reduce the gap to Lorandi and would finish 5th, a good result from 10th on the grid. But he was investigated during the race for his incident with Carrara and was awarded a ten second penalty. A harsh decision and certainly a tough one to take from a championship point of view, but it was a strong drive and one the team were hugely impressed with!
There would be more hard racing to do for Olli in race three as he would start once again from the fifth row of the grid. Olli was quick away once again this time jumping up to 7th place by the first corner. Olli was briefly 6th place before dropping back to 7th but the highlight of the first few laps was a move around the outside of two drivers at an almost flat out right hander which saw Olli just hold on to 7th before the safety car came out.
At the restart an aggressive defence was required to hold off William Alatalo before Olli could think about moving forward again. Olli clearly wasn’t in a mood to wait around as he immediately tried to take 6th but to avail this time. The end of the lap would see Olli involved in a four-way battle which had him in danger of dropping to 8th or 9th place but he got his elbows put when required and made a fantastic move around the outside of turn one to take 6th.
And that is where Olli would eventually go to finish opening a gap of seven seconds to Laganella behind him making it a trio of points scoring finishes. However, there would be more drama once again post-race with a ten second penalty dropping Olli to 9th place heavily affecting his championship bid for the second time in the weekend. It was a race that to many would see no reason to penalise Olli for anything he did, but the stewards felt otherwise and it was even worse considering his championship rivals had finished 1st and 2nd.
Olli Caldwell: “This wasn’t a very good weekend for us scoring very little points and having a bad qualifying. We have a big break now and we look forward to coming back strong in the second half of the championship.”
Away from the penalties Olli had a very impressive weekend. He was on the back foot from the start and after a difficult qualifying he showed his very impressive racing abilities with some fantastic moves, consistent pace and a good mentality to never give up despite what was thrown at him. This weekend should have been damage limitation, but now it will be one Olli will quickly want to put to the back of his mind over the summer break.
In the championship Olli now sits 3rd and is now 47 points behind Fittipaldi with three weekends to go. There’s no doubt Olli hasn’t given up on winning this title and will be one to watch at Imola!