16 / 18 April
Carlin’s Zak O’Sullivan became the GB3 in association with the BRDC champion last weekend at Donington Park, after a season which produced seven wins, seven additional podiums and also saw him claim the most poles, fastest laps and most laps led.
We caught up with him after he was confirmed as champion, to reflect on his victorious campaign.
GB3: Zak, how would you sum up the 2021 season, it couldn’t really have gone much better could it?
Zak O’Sullivan: “I think awesome is the word, it’s gone really, really well. It’s gone better than I’d expected, and great to get my first car racing championship off my back as well after two years of finishing second. I’ve really enjoyed my time working with Carlin this year, there’s been some familiar faces from last year in F4 and also some new guys from the GB3 side. So yeah, I’ve really enjoyed my year and it’s all gone to plan.”
GB3: Did you expect to mount such a consistent challenge in your first year in the championship?
ZOS: “Not really, winter testing went quite well, my teammate Christian Mansell was pretty close throughout testing so I thought it was going to be quite close between us two. But I think we turned up for the official test before the first round and we seemed to be towards the front and then of course qualifying third at Brands, and then winning race two, from then on it put us in good stead. I think it was only at round three here at Donington in July that I extended the bulk of my gap and then tried to keep building that throughout the year.”
GB3: At round two, it was very close at the top of the standings and it looked like there might be a titanic battle for the title, but it didn’t quite materialise, was that a surprise?
ZOS: “I thought it was going to drag on a bit longer, unfortunately I think Reece had an unlucky weekend here last time and he’s been slightly on the back foot ever since. He made a bit of a recovery this weekend and we’ve been racing again wheel to wheel, in very similar circumstances to when we were here in July last time. It was good to see they’re back up there, but it would have been nice for everyone if there’d been more of a fight for the last round!”
GB3: Your performances have been very consistent but also very quick, what’s been the secret?
ZOS: “I’m not too sure, if I knew I’d try and replicate it! But on average I think we’ve been the second fastest car-driver combination. It’s not always been the fastest but obviously we’ve had the most poles this year. But on average I’ve just been there and in every race I’m finishing I’m just trying to finish in the top three, and we’ve been achieving that most of the time. So that’s been the main target really, and that consistency has been key to it.”
GB3: On our stats for the season, you’re on top of each one, that must feel pretty good?
ZOS: “Yeah, the one I was surprised about was the most places gained in race three because I’ve been starting quite far back, but I’ve enjoyed the race three reverse grid action this year, it’s been good fun and a nice change. I think the racing has been quite good and there’s that interesting kind of battle as the slightly slower drivers are caught by the guys coming through in the mid phase of the race. So yeah, it’s been really entertaining.”
GB3: At Oulton Park you were so close to guaranteeing it, but then had to face a five week gap, and it must have been an interesting few weeks for you trying to work out what was going to happen at Donington?
ZOS: “Yeah after Oulton it was a bit disappointing. After race two I was a bit annoyed at myself and at the incident [with Luke Browning] and didn’t really think too much going into race three, and then I nearly managed to clinch it in race three! There was a bit of confusion over that and then once I realised I hadn’t won it yet, the five week gap seemed pretty long and made the race two incident at Oulton feel a bit more pronounced. But here all I had to do here really was finish race one and we did it in style with a pole and a win, and then converted P3 on the grid into a win in race two.”
GB3: In terms of going forward, the first thing of note is you’ve won the FIA Formula 3 test, and you’ve got two days to look forward to in that car with Carlin. How much are you looking forward to getting out to Spain in a couple of weeks time?
ZOS: “I’m really looking forward to that, it’s a really cool car and it will be great to get out on the Valencia circuit and be on track with some of the European drivers that are on the FIA stage. Of course with the boys and girls in blue again, I’ve had two great years with them so it’s cool to be doing the test with them.”
GB3: Potentially that will open up some doors for next year perhaps?
ZOS: “That’s the logical step for me next year, GB3 and the car especially has prepared me very well, obviously we run Pirelli tyres and the car has a lot of aero, so it’s prepared me well. And next year’s car looks like it’ll be even better preparation for the next step up.”
GB3: Finally, you’re winning every single award going at the moment, and you’re now in with a shout of the Aston Martin Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year Award, how are you feeling ahead of that?
ZOS: “I’m really excited to be honest. I’m slightly nervous but I’m sure that’s the same for everyone. The prize is very good with £200,000 but if nothing else I get to drive three really cool cars around the best circuit in the country. So I’m really looking forward to it and it’s an awesome opportunity. Hopefully it’ll be the launch pad to the next step on my career.”
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