Olli Caldwell became just the second ever British driver to win in the ADAC F4 Championship after taking the win in race three at Oschersleben. Olli had a three second gap to his teammate Enzo Fittipaldi at the flag taking a lights to flag victory in what his just his third ever meeting in the championship. The 15-year-old leaves round one fourth in the championship and joins Formula Two race winner, Lando Norris, as the only other British driver to stand on the top step of the podium in ADAC F4.
After a late switch to Prema Theodore Racing, Olli came into the season down on testing for his first full campaign and playing catch up on most of the field! Realisitically this should have put him on the back foot, but not for the first time in his racing career Olli had adapted quickly to both the car and new tracks and had been as high as 2nd in the official pre-season tests. It was very impressive pace but turning that pace into race results is another task all together. Olli did just two rounds in the championship last year at Oschersleben and Nurburgring with his best result being 17th place.
The weekend couldn’t have got off to a better start with Olli coming home 2nd in the first practice session and that was followed by a 10th in practice two which saw most of Olli’s flying laps interrupted by yellow or red flags! All in all it was a positive start to the day heading into the qualifying sessions on Friday afternoon.
However, qualifying did not turn out to be a reflection of the pace Olli showed in practice. The quick fire 15 minute sessions, which would set the grids for the first two races on Saturday, gives drivers around 4/5 laps to put a lap in so once you have the tyres up to temperature the laps have to be perfect. Perhaps it was first race nerves, but for Olli he never quite got the car hooked up perfectly and finished 12th and 11th respectively. In a 21-car field that’s far from a disaster, but it’s certainly not ideal!
From 12th on the grid in race one Olli made a fantastic start to the race moving straight into the points and into an impressive 7th place! He may still be 15-years-old and in his first full season of European F4, but the UAE F4 race winner took no prisoners and was clearly fired up! Now challenging Lorandi for 6th the safety car bunched the field up and once the race got going again Lorandi made a mistake which Olli would unfortunately replicate and the pair were off the track with Olli emerging in 14th place. Now out the points Olli had work to do and in the final five laps he went on to pick up four places passing the likes of Andreas Estner and Tom Bechkauser who are both into their second full seasons.
For race two Olli would start from 11th on the grid and it didn’t take long for the safety car to come out of the pits with the cars barely completing a lap. Sitting in 10th place after a good start Olli was straight on the move once the race got going again passing Lucas Roy to take 9th place with a bold move around the outside at turn one! Now into the top ten Olli set his sights on 8th place and the reverse grid pole position for race three.
Chasing down the 5th place battle Olli would have to pass Lorandi to get himself the privilege of pole position. But the Italian F4 race winner of last year is no slouch and on a track that is difficult to overtake on Olli tried everything he could but was never quite able to find a way through. It was a hard one to take for Olli, but post-race news would come in that a penalty for a driver ahead would promote Olli to 8th in the results and to pole position on the race three grid.
With points on the board from both races Olli was looking in good shape going into the third race. It would also be the time where he’d call on his experience from the UAE F4 Championship earlier this year where Olli took pole positions and three race wins! From the line Olli made a perfect start to consolidate his lead going into turn one, but it was not long before the safety car was out, after a first lap incident, which left Olli with a lot of pressure.
He dealt with that pressure perfectly getting a fantastic getaway and a fairly comfortable lead. Olli then got into an impressive rhythm and made no mistakes as the 30 minutes on the clock ticked down and he was eventually able to extend his lead to just under a second all of which was impressing guest commentator and DTM driver, Jamie Green. With most of the field benefiting from a tow and someone to chase down, Olli was out front punching his own hole through the air but was still, at times, quicker than anyone on track!
Heading into the final ten minutes was where Olli started to confirm himself as the deserved race winner. With his lead now over a second he could relax and with that he pulled the pin. Lapping quicker than the likes of podium finishers Fittipaldi, Vesti and Weerts Olli extended his lead from a second to three seconds in the final ten minutes of the race!
He showed no sign of nerves even at the end of the race and came home a very worthy race winner to the plaudits of the entire Prema Theodore Racing Team! It was a moment that Olli will never forget, his first win in ADAC F4 and his fourth win in single seater racing. The result puts Olli fourth in the championship just eight points behind the top three.
Olli Caldwell: “Qualifying on Friday didn’t go as planned but we managed to get good starts in race 1 and race 2 which handed us some points and the reverse grid pole for race 3. Then in race 3, I managed to get another good start and just held onto a comfortable lead. Even after the safety car, I had a good re-start and kept making a bigger gap to the guys behind as the car felt great. The weekend didn’t start as we planned, but by the end we were there and we got a win, you can’t complain about that. Prema did an amazing job and I want to thank all my sponsors for supporting me.”
The next round of the championship will take place at the Hockenheim circuit in just over two weeks where it will feature on the support package of the DTM Championship! Before that though, Olli will get his Italian F4 campaign underway at the Adria circuit in Italy this weekend.