Williams Racing Academy driver Zak O’Sullivan will take over Alexander Albon’s car in the opening Free Practice session of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Alex Albon’s Williams FW45 will be driven by Zak O’Sullivan in the opening practice of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit. O’Sullivan finished second in the FIA Formula 3 Championship this season and was previously the proud recipient of the Aston Martin Autosport BRDC Award.
Teams are obligated by the Formula 1 rules to run a driver who has started two or less Grands Prix in each of their cars throughout the season. After this outing, Williams will have completed its second and final required rookie driver training session for 2023.
A number of teams have decided to give their junior drivers the opportunity to drive their cars in the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and the Mexico City Grand Prix, which took place last weekend.
Williams was forced to run a junior driver exclusively in Alex Albon’s car after Logan Sargeant fulfilled the first rookie driver requirement in the Bahrain Grand Prix to mark his season debut. The Grove-based team has now officially announced that Zak O’Sullivan will drive Albon’s FW45 for the hour-long practice session at Yas Marina Circuit.
The 2023 Formula 3 championship runner up will also participate in the Young Driver Test, which is held in Abu Dhabi at the end of the season. He will share driving responsibilities with fellow Academy driver Franco Colapinto for the day.
The Argentine driver made his Formula 2 debut with MP Motorsport in the season-ending race in Abu Dhabi, but this will be his first experience driving a Formula 1 car.
O’Sullivan finished the 2023 season in second place overall with two wins in Feature Races and two wins in Sprints, one pole position, and another podium finish. Most famously, the British driver who enrolled at the Williams Racing Driver Academy in 2022 won the esteemed Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year Award.
“I’m really excited to participate in FP1 at Abu Dhabi,” O’Sullivan said. “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.”
Both Academy racers will be moving up to Formula 2 in 2024 after excellent seasons in Formula 3, where O’Sullivan and Colapinto tied the record for the most championship wins at 4. The Briton is scheduled to race for the ART Grand Prix, while the Argentinean driver will be with MP Motorsport.
Colapinto achieved two Sprint victories and five podium places in his second F3 season, placing him fourth overall in the driver standings. Franco joined the Driver Academy at the beginning of 2023 and has a stellar record. Two of his most noteworthy accomplishments are winning the 2019 Spanish Formula 4 Championship and being named the 2021 Asian Le Mans Series Rookie of the Year.
“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.”