After a six round season and seventeen races spanning five months the ADAC F4 season had finally come to an end on it’s third visit to the Hockenheim circuit in Germany. On the six rounds building up to the championship finale Olli had stood on the podium four times, which included a win back at Oschersleben and the 16-year-old now sat well within the top ten of the championship . It may have been a difficult weekend to end the season on, but that didn’t stop Olli from finishing 7th in the championship. A good result considering his luck at times and that this was his first full season in single seater racing!
Olli had dabbled in the championship last year. His age prevented him from a full campaign in the British F4 championship and with the aim to eventually race abroad Olli did two rounds in the ADAC F4 at Oschersleben and Nurburgring. Securing a seat with Prema Theodore Racing for the 2018 season was a big step and from the off he showed great potential. A lot of hard work both on and off track have led him to success on several occasions this season and have also seen him nominated for the McLaren Autosport BRDC Award.
Heading into the weekend Olli sat 7th in the standings and if things went his way he stood a chance of a top five finish in the championship. However, from the off things did not seem right. Olli had just come off the best weekend in his career and was now desperately struggling in practice. Considering this is a track Olli had two podiums at this season it was certainly not expected and was tough to deal with.
There would not be a huge amount of time to reflect on practice with Qualifying takingp lace on Friday evening. With practice, well and truly at the back of his mind Olli went out in Qualifying aiming for the best result possible and gave it everything. But he would unfortunately return to the pits disappointed after finishing down in 13th in session one before a slight improvement to finish 10th in session two. It set a hugely difficult task for the weekend ahead and was not helping his chances of a 5th place in the championship either!
After an evening to look through data and relax Olli returned to the Hockenheim circuit with a fresh state of mind on Saturday ready to make progress in all three races. Race one would see Olli start from 13th place with 30 minutes plus a lap to make as many places as possible. A great launch off the line saw Olli move into 11th before he had even reached turn one and that became a challenge for 9th going into turn two despite being caught on the outside.
Staying on the outside through turn two would give Olli the inside for turn three as he challenged now for 10th place, but he was not seen by the driver to his outside and that led to an incident. It would see Leon Kohler spinning round and leave Olli with front steering damage. An unfortunate racing incident and it shattered Olli’s chances of picking up a result. However, he would not give up and continued despite the damage to finish in 10th place and pick up a championship point.
Race two would see Olli start 10th on the grid and after another good start he found himself in 8th place by the time the cars had reached the turn six hairpin. That led to the safety being deployed and at the restart Olli took advantage of a battle ahead to move into 7th with a brilliant move around the outside of the hairpin. But he would quickly drop down to 9th in his attempts to take 7th place later in the lap.
It was all action once again at the hairpin the next lap with Olli going back into 8th place, but at Mercedes he left the door open slightly and was punished as he dropped back down to 9th. This may have been a fight for 8th, but it was certainly keeping the crowd on the edge of their seats! The race then started to settle down with Olli in pursuit of his teammate Petecof and Ptacek. Both podium finishers in the Italian F4 championship the task was far from easy and as the race reached it’s halfway point Olli made a mistake at turn one which dropped him to 10th.
Over the remaining laps Olli continued to struggle and eventually finished the race in 12th. It was one to forget, but he’d still have one more chance to leave with a decent result in the final race of the season on Sunday.
The final race of the weekend would see Olli start from 12th on the grid and immediately got off to a difficult start. The first lap saw nothing going his way as he was constantly caught on the outside and that unsurprisingly saw him drop positions. Olli was almost dead last on lap two and was now facing an uphill battle.
But this would lead to Olli’s best performance of the weekend. He closed the gap to the rest of the field and slowly picked his way through the order setting decent lap times which would have seen him fighting within the top five. As the race entered the last ten minutes Olli had moved into 9th place and the final few minutes would be under safety car conditions leaving Olli no opportunity to make anymore places.
Those results would help Olli keep 7th place in the championship. It was a good result considering the level of competition this year and the fact he had four DNF’s throughout the season. However, the win and podiums and pure consistency helped Olli to 7th and also made a huge contribution to the Prema Theodore Racing Team finishing 3rd in the Teams Championship.
Olli Caldwell: “This was a very bad weekend for me. I definitely did not get the results I wanted. However, I have to put this to the back of my mind as we still have a job to do this season. Now my only focus is on preparing for Mugello and competing for more wins. I’d like to thank the Prema Theodore Racing Team for all their hard work this season as well as Peak Performance Management and Infinity Sports Management for their support off track. And of course, none of this would be possible without my sponsors Private Fly, Total Rail Solutions, Towergate Insurance, Fitzgerald Plant Services, Reflex Vans, Shaun Leane and Batch Plant. Thank you for all your continued support on what has been an amazing year so far, the best in my Motorsport career! And finally, for everyone who supports me online, thank you for all your messages this season. It has help keep me motivated all year and has made the wins feeling even better knowing the support I have!”
Olli now has a month to prepare for the Italian F4 season finale at Mugello where he’ll be aiming to finish on the championship podium!