Olli Caldwell got his Italian F4 campaign off to a dream start with three rookie podiums in his first three races! Olli was able to get the Mucke Motorsport team their first ever rookie podium which is even more impressive as he joins the championship two rounds later than his competitors.
Heading to the Vallelunga Circuit, Olli was confident on a good result after a very positive pre-event test. The week before the event at the official two-day test Olli ended up in 5th place just 0.290 seconds off the fastest time.
However, Olli was never given a chance to reflect that pace in qualifying with Olli hitting problems is both sessions. In the opening session Olli’s flying lap was stopped when a safety car came out, in a 15-minute session he never quite got the chance to improve and ended in 19th place. In qualifying two, Olli was hit with gearbox issues in the shape of an upshift problem. Pitting to try and get it fixed Olli was able to get just one lap in which saw him qualify 22nd of the 26 drivers.
It was a disappointing start for Olli who had such high hopes for the weekend. But instead of dwelling on it, Olli was immediately focusing on the challenge ahead starting with race one on Saturday afternoon where he would start 19th. He knew he’d have some gearbox problems for the three races, but would do his best to work around them.
Olli got off to a terrific start in race one, from 19th in his very first Italian F4 race Olli moved forward throughout the race to finish 11th place and take 2nd in the Rookie class. Olli was challenging Hoogenboom for a top ten finish towards the end of the race, but slight contact by Hoogenboom saw Olli having to settle for 11th. Unfortunately, after the event had finished Olli received news that he had been given a 25 second penalty for contact which dropped him to 18th which was hard to take after being on such a high. It wasn’t the end of the world though as he would keep his 2nd place in the rookie class!
For race two the challenge would become even tougher with Olli having to start from 22nd place. But Olli was once again on the move and as he did in race one once again made eight places this time to finish in 14th and take another rookie podium! Olli made a good start and got himself straight up to 18th place which was followed by a safety car period. Once the race went live again Olli was back on the move and into 15th place being involved in the most entertaining battle on circuit. Right at the end of the race Olli was able to sneak through to 14th to finish 3rd in the rookie class!
With two rookie podiums Olli only had one goal in mind for race three, to take a clean sweep of rookie podiums! However, the challenge would be tougher than ever as Olli would start on the penultimate row of the grid in 24th place.
Clearly fired up, after a decent start Olli made good progress from 22nd to consistently make places throughout the 19-lap race which saw him in a fight for 12th place for the last eight laps of the race. Whilst trying to make more places Olli also had to be careful of the increasing pressure from behind and in the end held on to take 13th and another rookie podium!
Olli’s lap times in the third race were particularly impressive as he lapped within half a second of the race leaders! If he’d started higher up the field, there’s no doubt he could have competed for a top ten position but to take a clean sweep of Rookie podiums was a dream start for Olli!
Considering this was just his second visit to Vallelunga, his second ever single-seater race and his first in the Italian F4 Championship he would have surprised many neutrals. Olli has firmly put his name on the map and will be one to watch moving forward in the championship. He also delighted the team by giving them their first ever rookie podium! A great reward for the hard work put in at Vallelunga.
Olli Caldwell: ”To be on the podium in my first three Italian F4 races is a real dream come true. Especially after the disappointment of qualifying which left me with a lot of hard work to do. But thanks to the team and all their efforts I was able to make some places throughout all three races to bring home three trophies. I can't wait for the rest of the season with Mucke Motorsport as I think we'll only move forward from here!"
Peter Mücke: "I am very happy with the third weekend of the Italian Formula 4 race. The decisive thing is that the speed was there and we are absolutely competitive. I was also impressed by our rookie Olli Caldwell, Who drove us to the rookie podium for the first time in his first three races, and we have already tested with him, so the work pays off.”