It was a brilliant start to the Italian F4 championship for Olli Caldwell who finished in the top ten in all three races to get his Italian F4 campaign off to a solid start. In a fiercely competitive grid of over 30 drivers Olli has already improved on his best result of last season after taking 4th place in race two. It’s a brilliant start to the season for the Prema Theodore Racing driver with Paul Ricard the next stop in two week’s time.
The weekend for the Italian F4 grid would start on Friday where they pretty much had the track to themselves for a whole day of free practice. Split into a morning and afternoon session Olli completed 112 laps but struggled to reflect the pace he had at Oschersleben just a few days ago finishing the afternoon session in 18th.
Moving into Saturday and there were two more free practice sessions for the field albeit a lot shorter this time. Olli got off to a fantastic start finishing 3rd in the first session and was within three tenths of his teammate Enzo Fittipaldi. Olli went for a slightly longer run in the second session but still managed to finish 7th setting some more impressive times.
Olli was now heading into qualifying full of confidence but with only three to four flying laps there was no room for error. Olli’s third and fourth laps saw him sitting provisional pole but that was unfortunately taken away from him on the next lap. From there the session was pretty much concluded from Olli’s point of view who would finish 4th overall. The second session was similar in the sense that Olli sat on pole early on but eventually finished the session in 6th. Session one was particularly impressive with Olli just two tenths away from pole position!
Going into race one Olli had his eyes firmly set on a podium finish. It would be a fantastic way to get the championship underway, but the opening lap didn’t go exactly to plan with Olli dropping to 6th. It was far from a disaster and Olli managed to settle into a rhythm building a gap over the rest of the field. Ahead with the chequered flag fast approaching Olli’s chance of stealing a position was presented as he closed in on his teammate Petecof. But behind the hugely experienced F3 driver, Toby Sowery, had also joined the party and with Olli and Petecof perhaps too focused on each other Sowery was able to take advantage of the pair of them pushing Olli down to 7th at the flag.
A decent start to the championship and points already on the board Olli now turned his attention to race two where he would be starting on the outside of row three. This time around Olli made a fantastic start to the race and was straight up to 4th place hassling the top three. Olli was part of a lead quartet that was now escaping from the rest of the field but as the laps ticked by the four drivers separated themselves from each other making the last few laps a very unnerving watch with Olli going on to take his best result ever in the Italian F4 Championship!
However, celebrations would be short lived with race three just around the corner. Olli would start on p5 and after his performance of race two it was certainly a podium that he had amongst his goals. Those aspirations would unfortunately be short lived with Olli getting caught up in a first lap incident which dropped him all the way down to 18th place! With 20 laps on the board it all became about damage limitation and clearly fired up Olli wasted no time in making up positions.
Six laps in and Olli was up to 14th place and he made 12th just a few laps later! Entering the second half of the race making positions would ultimately become harder but Olli continued to rise up the order picking off two more between laps 14 and 17. Olli still had one more move in the bag and this time his victim came in the shape of Malvestiti who was on the podium in race one! A post-race penalty ahead would leave Olli 8th place, it was a crucial result as it puts more points on the board and it would move Olli up into 6th in the championship!
Although a fantastic recovery the result of race three was still a disappointing one in many ways. Olli had the pace to challenge for a podium at the very least in the final race, a result that would have seen him leaving round one 4th or even 3rd in the championship! But there were certainly lots of positives to take away and there are still six rounds in the championship remaining!
Olli Caldwell: “This weekend was disappointing, we had good pace in qualifying but we were unlucky in the races. An incident in race three put me down to 18th but I managed to fight back to 8th which I can take some positives from. I’m aiming to do better in the next weekend for sure though!”
Next up for Olli is the second round of the ADAC F4 Championship at Hockenheim next weekend. After his win in race three at round one Olli sits 4th in the championship. This round will also act as a dress rehearsal to the biggest event of the year, when Olli returns to Hockenheim in July for round five of the championship where he will race on the Formula One support package!