Olli Caldwell, currently racing in the FIA Formula 2 with Campos Racing and part of the Alpine Academy, had his first taste of FIA Formula 1 World Championship machinery earlier this week at Silverstone.
The twenty-year-old Briton took to the track in an Alpine F1 Team A521 after being given the chance by the French team to run as part of its young driver test programme, and he completed more than four hundred and eighty-five kilometres in the car driven by Fernando Alonso to the podium in the 2021 Qatar Grand Prix.
It was a big step up in machinery for Caldwell, but the youngster was delighted to get given the opportunity to run in a Formula 1 machine for the first time.
“It’s been unbelievable and I’m quite speechless, there’s nothing I could compare it to,” said Caldwell. “It’s everything I expected and more. There’s nothing you can do to prepare for how it feels.
“The car is incomparable to F2, everything is more, there’s more speed, downforce, braking plus there’s about 50 more buttons.
“I’ve got used to working much faster in this car and then going back to F2, where obviously it’s slower, I will be able to take forward what I’ve learned from this experience and adapt it when I’m back driving this circuit in a F2 car.
“I’d like to take the opportunity to thank BWT Alpine F1 Team for allowing me this opportunity, as without them, an experience like this isn’t possible. For not only being in the Academy, but to get this opportunity to drive last year’s F1 car. It’s been incredible.”
Julian Rouse, the Alpine Academy Project Manager, said Caldwell did a great job during his first opportunity behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car, and he made good progress throughout the day.
“Olli did a great job today,” said Rouse. “He kept a sensible head and put in a lot of laps, showing maturity on his debut.
“He was committed and gave detailed feedback after each run which allowed him to make some good progress throughout the day. Overall a very good approach that shows lots of promise.
“I’m sure he will be able to put this experience to good use as he moves forward in F2 this season.”