O’Sullivan to make F1 practice debut in Abu Dhabi, Colapinto gets test chance

Formula 1

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Williams will run their junior driver Zak O’Sullivan in the first practice session at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix later this month.

It will be O’Sullivan’s third outing in a Formula 1 car, having done a prize test with Aston Martin at Silverstone last year and then a recent test with to ensure he was eligible for a free practice-only superlicence.

Appendix L of the FIA’s International Sporting Code specifies that he needed to have “driven at least 300km in a representative F1 car consistently at racing speeds”, a figure which he did not reach in his first test. Therefore Williams arranged for him to complete extra running in a two-year-old F1 car.

O’Sullivan was FIA Formula 3 championship runner-up this year, winning two sprint races and two feature races. He will step up to Formula 2 in 2024 with the ART Grand Prix team. His accumulation of superlicence points that were also needed to make him eligible for an F1 practice call-up included coming second in British Formula 4 in 2020 and winning the GB3 title in 2021.

“I’m really excited to participate in FP1 at Abu Dhabi,” said O’Sullivan. “I can’t wait to get behind the wheel of the FW45 for the first time and get some good mileage under my belt. In addition to that, I’m returning to the car for the post-season rookie test to further my development with the team. Huge thanks to Williams Racing for the opportunity and for putting their faith in me to drive the 2023 car.”

He will drive the car usually raced by Alexander Albon to ensure Williams meet the requirement of teams handing over each of their cars to a driver with less than three F1 starts to their name in at least one practice session during the season. Since Albon’s team mate Logan Sargeant is an F1 rookie, it means his first practice session of the year counted towards Williams’ quota.

Having given O’Sullivan the opportunity to drive their 2023 car on a race weekend, Williams will reward his fellow junior Franco Colapinto – who came fourth in FIA F3 this season and will make his F2 debut later this month – with a run in the car during F1’s official post-season young driver test. That will take place at Yas Marina Circuit, venue of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, giving the team the opportunity to compare their two juniors as both will be driving.

“I am extremely grateful to Williams Racing for giving me the opportunity to drive an F1 car in only my first year in the Academy,” said Colapinto.

“I’ve been dreaming of this day since I was a kid and have been working really hard for this. To have this chance at the official young driver test is a real honour. Thank you to the team for entrusting me with the FW45. Being part of the Academy this year has opened my eyes in so many different areas and I feel ready to make this step. I can’t wait.”

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Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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2 comments on “O’Sullivan to make F1 practice debut in Abu Dhabi, Colapinto gets test chance”

  1. Good news for Zak, although it’s a shame Williams couldn’t get him into an F2 seat for Abu Dhabi to help with his preparation for next year.

  2. Which drivers are going to do the F1 test for Red Bull or is that not know yet?

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