Olli has put himself amongst the favourites for the championship in this years Italian F4 Championship after a hugely impressive performance at Paul Ricard. Racing at the French based circuit for the first time, Olli blitzed the first race and went on to take 2nd in race three falling just short of the victory after charging up to the back of the leader on the last lap. Olli now sits 3rd in the championship and will be the one many are looking at as a favourite for the title with his confidence through the roof!
On most occasions this season it has been qualifying that has often let Olli down in what are very quick fire 15 minute sessions. However, Paul Ricard that would no longer be a problem with Olli putting in a fantastic performance to qualify 2nd and 3rd which would give him strong starting positions for at least two of the three races.
With over 30 of Europe’s best F4 drivers on the grid, Olli showed no signs of nerves off the start and from the second row dived straight for the lead on Frederik Vesti, who currently sits 2nd in the ADAC F4 Championship, in what was a brave first corner move! The quick start didn’t stop there with Olli’s lead over a second by the end of lap one!
From there the Prema Theodore Racing Driver would go on to lead every single lap eventually extending his lead to over five seconds! It was astonishing pace considering the strength of the field, but no one could respond to both the pace and consistency of the 15-year-old who took both his first win and podium in the Italian F4 Championship with the result.
However, the celebrations would be short lived with race two and three still to follow on Sunday. The conditions the drivers were greeted with on Sunday morning couldn’t be much different to race one on Saturday. The rain was falling and the track soaked meaning the race would start under safety car conditions. Having won race one it would be Olli who would lead the field around and it would be seven minutes before the lights on the safety car went out reducing the race to just 20 minutes.
Once the cars were finally released Olli would lead the field down to turn one and was under immediate pressure from Vesti. With no wet running over the weekend, Olli would be the driver having to guess the braking points and the first to discover just how traitorous the track was at full speed. Unfortunately, this led Olli into a spin at turn two, he’d be the first on several drivers to have an off, but if anything, Olli was now able to settle into the race and begin his recovery.
Having dropped out of the top fifteen Olli was eventually able to recover to 7th place when the red flags were brought out setting the fastest lap along the way. It was a tough race where Olli was constantly having to adapt to the conditions which made overtaking even more difficult but he had salvaged points going into the third and final race.
After a strong qualifying Olli would start on row two for race three and was hoping to emulate the result of race one. Conditions were now dry once again, with damp patches in places, meaning the racing was likely to be very close! It also meant a safety car start and from 4th place Olli got a fantastic run down the straight and pulled off a fantastic move to go around the outside of Ptacek at turn one to go straight into 3rd.
A lap later and Olli had caught and passed his teammate Enzo Fittipaldi leaving only Vesti ahead! The race two winner, however, was some 2.5 seconds ahead which would make Olli’s task of closing him in extremely difficult. Six laps in and Olli had brought that gap down to less than half a second bringing his teammate with him. However, this would be the lap where Olli would briefly lose 2nd, but he would get it straight back with his signature move at turn one.
With now just over ten minutes on the clock and the gap over a second Olli had to start pumping some fast laps in. But whatever Olli was trying he couldn’t quite bring the gap down and going onto the last lap it remained at over one second. For many this was race over, but for Olli it wasn’t! With every corner he was closing in on Vesti and you could visibly see the nerves of Vesti growing. By the last few corners Olli was right on him but couldn’t find a clean way through at the last corner and had to settle for 2nd place!
Considering where he was at the beginning of the lap it was a fantastic drive and was more points on the board to boost Olli into 3rd in the championship.
Olli Caldwell: “This was a great weekend for us, we got a great start in race 1 and managed to stay ahead and pull a 5s gap for the victory. Race 2 was not so good, I made some stupid mistakes and after dropping down to 15th I got back into the points finishing 8th. Race 3 was great finishing 2nd to take another podium. I’m looking to carry this pace on towards the next races of the championships in Lautizring and Monza.”
Olli will be back out this weekend at the Lausitzring for round three of the ADAC F4 Championship where he will be hoping to keep up his current form which has seen him taking wins and podiums in the opening two rounds of the season.