It was an almost perfect weekend for Olli at the Hungaroring for round three of the Formula Regional European Championship with the Prema Powerteam driver taking podiums in all three races. After a strong qualifying Olli started on the front row for races and two and three and capitalized rounding off the weekend with a second-place finish, all of which has seen the British driver climb to third in the standings.
With no previous racing experience at the circuit Olli was on the back foot in comparison to some of his competitors on arrival to Budapest. A circuit which as long remained on the Formula One calendar it is seen as one of the toughest with high speed hairpins making it very tough on tyres and very physically demanding.
A positive collective test saw Olli in the top five on both days which had seen him set his targets on podium finishes, with the 17-year-old keen to boost his points tally after a tricky Vallelunga round. Olli gave himself every chance of doing just that after qualifying third for race one and on the outside of the front row for races two and three.
A good start to the opening race saw Olli hold position in third as he attempted to break away with his two Prema teammates out front. However, one driver who had stayed with Olli was Marcos Siebert which was keeping the pressure on and forcing Olli to keep pushing in the early stages.
Ten minutes into the race Olli’s hard work was beginning to pay off with the gap to Siebert now at one second which had effectively broken the tow and shifted the pressure back on the Argentine. Now able to focus on a clear road ahead Olli started to pump in the times and was soon down the road and in a comfortable third.
Olli would eventually build a gap of just under four seconds as a he cruised to take his first podium of the weekend and his second of the season with the Prema team filling the podium positions and not for the first time this season!
For race two Olli would of course be on the front row of the grid and with a good start could challenge for the lead down into turn one. However, a slightly eager start saw Olli come under pressure from teammate Enzo Fittipaldi who had got a much smoother run from the cleaner side of the track and passed Olli before the first corner dropping him to third place.
Into turn two Olli found himself having to defend once again from the likes of Sophia Florsch, but Olli quickly settled and kept in the tow of his two teammates ahead. Anyone who has watched racing around Hungaroring will know it is an extremely difficult track to overtake on and that would be proven once again with a similar race pattern forming.
With his teammates building a gap Olli was left to fend off Florsch who proved to be difficult to shake off, but making no mistakes Olli was able to hold a gap of over a second to the German and his consistency was rewarded with Olli taking his second podium of the weekend.
After a poor start in race two, Olli would not be making the same mistakes again and even with being on the dirtier side of the track Olli held position and was quickly challenging Frederik Vesti for the lead at turn one.
Quickly settling into the race Olli focused on trying to build a gap to the pack behind which included championship rivals Fittipaldi and Igor Fraga. Similar to race two Olli would not be given much time to relax with the threat from behind constant.
But as Fittiapldi asked questions Olli had all the answers and could take a gap of over one second in to the final few laps leaving him to go on and finish second place! Second almost became first on the last lap with Vesti ahead hitting what appeared to be terminal problems before eventually just holding on to the win in a drag race to the line. It was Olli’s third podium of the weekend and fourth of the season taking his points tally to 91 which puts him third in the standings with five rounds remaining.
Olli Caldwell: "Qualifying was okay, we were P3, P2 andP2. I think if I had managed to do a perfect lap we could have got the pole as well. The races were very physical, the most physical I've ever done! Frederik and Enzo were fast as well. I have had a bit of an issue with the starts, which we fixed. In the end, one more corner and I could have had a win with Frederik's issue. It was a good weekend for points, but I'm still not as happy as I could be."
Hungaroring was a big step forward for Olli in the Formula Regional European Championship. A weekend full of podiums was certainly needed both for himself and for his championship hopes and it now brings him into contention heading into Red Bull Ring. Having come so close to victory last weekend, Olli could prove hard to stop in Austria!