It was a weekend to remember for Olli Caldwell at round three of the Italian F4 Championship after the young Brit scored podium finishes in all three races moving him up to 2nd in the championship. The Prema Theodore Racing driver has kicked his title campaign into a new gear and now sits just 23 points behind championship leader Leonardo Lorandi with over half the season remaining.
Monza had already held happy memories for Olli. The legendary Italian circuit based just 20km north of Milan was where Olli scored his best result of his reduced Italian F4 campaign in 2017 finishing 6th place in the final race of the weekend. To add to that Olli had come off the back of a superb weekend at Paul Ricard which saw the 15-year-old pick up a win and 2nd place.
Things got off to a good start with Olli on the pace Friday during free practice ending the day in 3rd just 0.04 behind this quickest time of the day! With the top five covered by just one tenth of a second the racing was set to be very close and competitive. However, it is of course qualifying which sets the grids and Olli put in a good performance crucially qualifying at the front with 5th and 4th in both sessions. Being at the front was going to be vital given how easy it is to overtake around the 3.6-mile circuit, being down the top ten could leave you vulnerable to finishing outside of the points.
For race one Olli would be faced with that exact challenge starting in 7th. A good getaway saw Olli go straight into 6th place going into turn one and a lap later at the first chicane good opportunistic driving almost saw that become 5th but any opportunity of more moves was halted by the first safety car of the weekend. Two laps after the restart Olli’s progress continued with a move into Lesmo One on Ptacek with the battle for 2nd just ahead.
As the race approached half distance Olli was now involved in the battle for 2nd but things were about to dramatically change. Ahead contact was made which had taken two prisoners leaving Olli now in a comfortable 3rd trying to chase down 2nd. It took Olli just one lap to catch and pass Ian Rodriguez and with Lorandi well down the road any chance of challenging for the lead were very slim. The race would eventually finish under the safety car, but despite the official result it was a very comfortable 2nd place for Olli.
For race two Olli would start 5th and a clean start to the race saw him pick up 4th place on the opening lap. It wasn’t long before the safety car was deployed and similar to race one Olli made a fantastic restart and went straight on the attack into turn one picking up 3rd place. It was cooking up to be a fascinating race with the top seven glued together heading down the straight and almost four wide into turn one! Olli had gone for the inside in a bid to take 2nd and got his elbows out to do just that going around the outside through the middle of the chicane on race one winner Lorandi!
From there Olli started to apply the pressure on race leader William Alatalo coming very close to taking the race lead on several occasions. The second half of the race was filled with safety car periods which reduced Olli’s chances as well as constantly bringing the threat back of losing 2nd. The safety car came in for the final time with two and a half minutes to go but a good restart for Alatalo left Olli just behind as the chequered flag fell. It was nevertheless a fantastic performance and an even better result with Olli’s championship rivals further down the top ten.
For the third and final race of the weekend would start 4th and after a good start was able to hold position through the first lap. As the leaders began to break away from the rest of the field Olli was patient and made his move four minutes into the race heading down to turn one to go into 3rd. It wasn’t long before Olli was challenging for those 2nd, but those attempts were unsuccessful and saw Olli briefly drop to 4th place.
Two safety car periods then quickly brought us to the final five minutes of the race with all focus on try to get 2nd place. But in Alatalo’s defence he put up a brave defence and with Olli not in the mood to take any unnecessary risks he would settle for 3rd making it a clean sweep of podium finishes leaving him 2nd in the championship!
Olli Caldwell: "This weekend was really good for us scoring three podiums and very good points! Now we have to focus on the next few rounds with Red Bull Ring this weekend and Misano next weekend and make sure we keep up the results.”
The busy schedule for Olli continues as he heads to the Red Bull Ring in Austria this weekend for round four of the ADAC F4 Championship where he is currently sitting 7th in the standings.