British F3

O’Sullivan holds narrow British F3 lead after double podium at Silverstone

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Credit: Newsline PR

Zak O’Sullivan enjoyed a positive weekend as the BRDC British Formula 3 Championship travelled to Silverstone GP for the second meeting of the 2021 season.

The Gloucestershire driver took two second-place finishes in the first two races, fighting back from 15th to ninth in the reverse-grid Race 3, clawing back one point on early-season title rival Reece Ushijima, who won the first two races and finished 13th in Race 3.

Hitech GP‘s Japanese-American driver was fastest in the second testing session on Thursday, claimed pole position for, and won, the first two races at Silverstone.

O’Sullivan qualified second by 0.061s for Race 1, starting third for Race 2.

He limited the damage with two second places, withstanding pressure from Roberto Faria (Fortec Motorsport) at the end of Race 2.

The Carlin driver holds the Drivers’ Championship lead by six points going into Donington Park.

The new Teams’ Championship will add another fascinating element to Britain’s premier single-seater series, and while Hitech assumed the lead after their home round, Carlin have won three of the last four Drivers’ titles and trail by just nine points.

With six of the 24-race schedule completed, a quarter of the season, the Drivers’ and Teams’ standings are beginning to take shape.

With O’Sullivan taking four podiums, including a win, in the first six races of the season, the 2020 F4 British Championship runner-up is already looking a likely title contender in Britain’s highest echelon of single-seater racing.

Reflecting on the weekend, he said:

“The Thursday test wasn’t ideal but we worked really hard on Friday night to recover and go into quali with a good car.

We were just 0.06 off pole and in hindsight, had we got that it would have helped our weekend in a big way.

“P2 in the first two races were really strong.

“I couldn’t really do much in Reece’s dirty air and I think I got a bit lucky in race two to hold on to second at the end.

“In race three, we still had our high downforce trick compared with the low downforce everyone else was running.

“While it was quicker over one lap, we struggled a bit in the races.

“It’s just one of those things – it was a bit frustrating but finishing the races is important, race three especially.”

Donington Park is the next destination for the British F3 teams and drivers on 10-11 July; the Leicestershire circuit was a happy hunting ground for O’Sullivan last season.

The then-15-year-old took his first single-seater win in his debut British F4 weekend, with Carlin team-mate Christian Mansell fifth behind Frederick Lubin, who also moved into British F3 with Arden Motorsport for 2021.

That win was the first of nine, with 18 podiums in total, as he finished runner-up to Luke Browning by four points.

“For Donington it’s wait and see, no expectations.

“We thought we’d be quite strong here and we struggled initially.

“It seems like it’s going to be a very close championship with lots of cars at the front.”

That it surely will be, with five different winners from the first six races.

With a 53-point gap from Ushijima back to Roberto Faria in third, it seems Carlin and Hitech will be locked in a title fight throughout the season.

O’Sullivan has finished second in Ginetta Junior and British F4 in his first two full seasons out of karting.

The battle emerging between he and second-year driver Reece Ushijima will surely have us glued to our screens until the 24th and final race at Donington in October.

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Stickler for track limits, covering BRDC British F3 and the British GT Championship. Twitter: @FutbolCallander
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