As every racing driver knows, in a season there will be difficult weekends thrown at you when you must deal with problems and for Olli Red Bull Ring was one of those. Firstly, there was missing both practice sessions due to his GSCE exams, then minor mistakes and a change in the weather in qualifying cost him sorely in the starts and not being able to set the car up properly in in the missed Free Practice sessions meant that Olli was slightly off the pace in the racing. So all things considered two 4th place finishes and an 8th is not bad at all!
Going into the weekend Olli always knew he was going to be up against it. To switch from being focused on GSCE exams in the morning to Qualifying in the afternoon is a very difficult situation for anyone let alone someone on the brink of turning 16 years old to be in!
But as Olli arrived at the circuit with only 90 minutes to go his usual race weekend preparations had to be thrown out of the window and he would only have a few laps to set a good lap time over the two 15 minute sessions.
During both sessions Olli was in the hunt for 5th and 3rd respectively but two minor mistakes in both sessions along with rain in TQ2 saw Olli end up in 7th and 10th place. It was a tough result to take for Olli , but when you take into account the day Olli had, it was to many still very impressive and showed how Olli can deal with high pressure situations. He now still had a good chance of taking good points over the weekend.
For race one Olli would go off the inside of row four and got a good launch holding position on the first lap as he quickly became part of a lead train breaking clear from the pack. But as Schumacher and Weerts battled ahead that quickly saw the chasing pack catch up including Olli’s teammate Gianluca Petecof. Despite a first sector full of long straights it was clear very quickly that overtaking was going to be difficult with the field very evenly matched.
Moving towards the halfway stage the chasing group began to spread itself out with Olli settled into 7th place. That would eventually turn into Olli’s aim later in the race as Petecof began to up the pressure heading into the final few laps, but just two minutes before the end Petecof was through leaving Olli disappointed in 8th place.
For race two Olli would start 10th giving him a huge challenge given how difficult overtaking seemed to be in race one. Olli was clearly up for that challenge after some changes were made to the car and as he made a tremendous start going up to 7th on lap one and that quickly became 6th after he was gifted a position at the start of lap two. One position would quickly turn into three as Olli set himself up for a switch back move going through turn three, but before he had even made his move the pair ahead had collided going off the circuit.
That incident brought out the safety car with Olli already up to 4th place! A podium was now Olli’s aim and he immediately began to put the pressure on Mick Wishofer as the race got underway. Unable to get through Olli settled into position and was able to stay with the top three who were charging away from the battle for 5th. With just over ten minutes to go the safety car was deployed again and so with nine minutes on the clock the race restarted with Olli now having another chance at taking 3rd.
But those chances were immediately slashed when Frederik Vesti ran off the circuit to pass Olli around the outside at turn one for 4th off the restart. Vesti would eventually give the place back but with a queue now formed Olli had to defend heavily for the last few laps and the great attacking form shown at Monza just a week ago it was time to show the shown in the opposite area this time around with Olli eventually going on to finish 4th.
For the third and final race Olli, would start 5th being the reverse grid race. Olli had another strong start after finishing the opening lap where he’d started, despite a near miss at turn two which saw an attempted move from teammate Enzo Fittipaldi see the Brazilian taking a trip to the pit lane. Olli’s good start continued with a move on Andreas Estner at turn one, but with a gap to the top three Olli now had work to do!
Olli did just that in a surprising six minutes as he became involved in a battle not only for 3rd but for the lead! However, the middle phase of the race saw Olli’s pace being not quite good enough to stay in that lead battle and he briefly dropped back from the top three and was caught by championship leader Zendeli. That pressure saw Olli’s pace rise once again and he was soon mounting the pressure of Niklas Krutten for 3rd but to would be another 4th place for Olli in the end with plenty of positives to take away from the race!
Olli Caldwell: “This was a difficult weekend for us, we had to miss both practice sessions and go straight to Qualifying due to exams. In addition as I hadn’t had time to set the car up I felt we were always on catch up and , my pace throughout the races was average. We are going to Misano next week for the Italian championship where we are currently 2nd, and we are looking to score good points there.”
It may have been a tough weekend for Olli having come from the highs of Monza but it was still his most consistent of the season and it keeps him 7th in the championship Having closed the gap massively to those in front of him
The next round of the season will be at Hockenheim in just over a month’s time where they will be on the support bill for the Formula One German Grand Prix!