The british racing driver from GB3 talks about his career so far
The 17-year-old GB3 champion and brand-new F3 driver Zak O’Sullivan had an incredible start of the year.
After clinching the GB3 title with Carlin last season winning 7 times and taking 14 podiums, a few weeks ago he was announced as the winner of the 2021 Aston Matin Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year and the legendary F1 team Williams Racing selected him to join their driver academy. As a result of his achievements, Carlin decided to sign him for the 2021 FIA F3 Championship.
Mult1formula had the opportunity to chat with him at the beginning of February so let’s find out what was his reaction to such important news!
First of all, we talked about his debut in the Formula 3 Championship…
This is going to be your first year in Formula 3: what will you bring from your GB3 experience?
Having race weekends with a packed schedule in GB3 meant many opportunities to learn and grow as a driver. A lot of success in racing comes from experience. In addition, having so much track time over the past few years has enabled me to experience so many different situations, so I am now prepared if I was to face them in FIA F3.
You stand out last year by winning GB3 championship by over 164 points from your nearest competitor, did you expect this kind of result? Which was your favorite race?
I knew we were looking strong going into the season, but I certainly didn’t expect that kind of gap! It was all about taking each race at a time and giving it 100%. I didn’t really look at the statistics until the end. My favourite race was Race 2 at the final Donington round. I had won the Championship in the previous race so I could really get stuck in and enjoy it with no pressure.
You have already worked with Carlin so, do you think it could be an advantage for you for this season and do you feel ready to compete against the more experienced drivers?
This will definitely be an advantage. I have a very strong relationship with the Carlin team, in particular with my race engineer Anthony. We understand each other and the way we work. Together we achieved being Vice-Champion in British F4 and were Champions in GB3. The team and I trust each other to put 100% effort into every race weekend.
I am excited to compete against a new group of drivers from across the world, I look forward to the challenge! Some of them I know from earlier in my career, but some are a little older. It is going to be an exciting season.
How your preparation for the Formula 3 season is going?
Well, thank you. I first tested the car back in November at the Valencia test – there was certainly a lot to get used to. The next official test is in Bahrain at the start of March, I’m looking forward to finalising things ahead of the first round.
Away from the track I do fitness training and work on the simulator with my coaches. There is a lot of unseen effort that goes on off the track!
Which is the track you tremendously look forward to race this season?
There’s too many to choose from! I think the opening round in Bahrain will be special, and of course my home GP at Silverstone. I am looking forward to racing at all the circuits on the calendar, many of which are new to me!
Then, Zak joined the Williams Driver Academy at the beginning of February…
How did you feel when the call from Williams Driver Academy came?
I was obviously delighted. It felt amazing that Jost and Sven are putting their trust in me. They are such an iconic and respected team and they have worked with some of F1’s best talent. I felt immediately excited but also ready to put my head down, focus and give it my all.
Does having the support of a Formula 1 team put more pressure on your shoulders or does it motivate you more?
It motivates me. Williams have shown that they see something in me and I want to prove that they made the right decision. I will continue to work hard and focus on each race/test/event as it comes. I don’t like to get too ahead of myself.
Have you already started working with the team and your academy mates?
I’ve been to the factory and met many members of the team. Everyone is very nice. I met Nicholas and he was very welcoming. I already know Logan and I’m looking forward to working with him more.
What do you think you will improve more as a driver thanks to the help of such a historic Formula 1 team?
I think I will learn a lot about the operations of a Formula 1 team and how they work which will be fascinating. I know that they will offer fantastic advice for my racing this year and I will also learn a lot through my work on the simulator too.
In the same week in which he was announced as a William Junior Driver Academy, the English driver celebrated his seventeenth birthday in a different and unexpected way…
This year, on your birthday, you received a very special gift: the Aston Martin Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year. How did it make you feel winning this award? Does it have a special meaning for you?
It was an amazing end to such a crazy week! To be honest it was such an honour to even make the Top 10 in this award. It is such a well-respected award and it was incredible to be considered.
I enjoyed the whole process and on the night didn’t get my hopes too high as Ollie (Bearman), Jonny (Edgar) and Louis (Foster) were such strong competitors.
Are you proud to see your name next to drivers name like Coulthard, Button, Russell, Norris…?
So proud. They are such iconic names in our sport and have achieved such impressive accomplishments.
We know that you drove several cars during the final tests at Silverstone, which one did you have the most fun with?
The GT3 car, it was something new to me and I enjoyed the different driving philosophy required.
Finally, we tried to dig a little deeper into his life…
Has being a driver always been your dream? If not, what did you want to do when you grew up?
It was my dream from when I was very young! I watched F1 with my dad and also one day I saw a kart at the Autosport Show. I begged my dad to let me try it and the obsession began from there! I started racing karts at 8/9 years old.
How important is your family’s support for you?
Very important. I wouldn’t be where I am without the support and sacrifices of my parents. Motorsport is so expensive and involves so much travel, they definitely had to change their lifestyle to support me. So I’m very grateful.
In which conditions do you prefer to drive? And would you prefer winning from pole position or in a comeback?
I’ve been known for getting good results in the rain, but I don’t mind the conditions really, racing is always fun. Whilst it is an amazing achievement to climb from last to first, a lights to flag victory is also a good. I will take either haha!
How do you usually react to mistakes in a competition? Are you a person who gets down easily or do you immediately take advantage of that negative experience to improve?
I am quite quick to move on from a mistake or negative situation. My coach always says that once we have discussed the issue I immediately wipe my hands and look forward to the next thing. It’s always best to move on rather than dwell on it. I will always try to use the learning experience in the next race.
Is there a driver, from both past and present, who you admire and who inspires you?
I don’t have one particular driver who inspires me. To clarify, here are many impressive talents who are racing at the pinnacle of motorsport across the world. That is certainly something to admire.
Last but not least…
Is becoming a Formula 1 driver your main goal but also your only choice? Would you close the doors to other categories?
As with most of my peers, Formula 1 is the aim and always has been. However to be honest any situation where it is my full-time job to race, whatever the series, would be brilliant.