Williams Racing Driver Academy’s Zak O’Sullivan to make FP1 debut in Abu Dhabi as Franco Colapinto handed Young Driver Test chance
Williams are set to fulfil their final remaining rookie Free Practice 1 outing of 2023 by running their academy driver Zak O’Sullivan in Abu Dhabi – with the Briton and fellow Williams Racing Driver Academy member Franco Colapinto to share driving duties at the subsequent post-season Young Driver Test.
Since 2022, F1’s regulations have included a mandatory pair of FP1 outings per year for drivers who have completed less than two Grands Prix, with each team’s race driver obliged to give up their seat once.
Williams running rookie Logan Sargeant in 2023 used up one of those requirements for the team in Bahrain’s FP1 – while O’Sullivan’s Abu Dhabi experience is set to fulfil the second, the Briton to take over Alex Albon’s Williams FW45 in the final Free Practice 1 session of the year.
“I’m really excited to participate in FP1 at Abu Dhabi,” said O’Sullivan, who claimed two Feature Race and two Sprint wins in Formula 3 this year en route to P2 in the standings, behind champion Gabriel Bortoleto.
“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.”
As O’Sullivan mentions, he will then be run by Williams at the post-season Young Driver Test at the Yas Marina Circuit, sharing driving duties with fellow F3 racer Colapinto – who claimed P4 in the standings in 2023.
The Argentinian driver will also make his Formula 2 debut in Abu Dhabi, ahead of his and O’Sullivan’s promotion to the series in 2024 with MP Motorsport and ART Grand Prix respectively.
“Both Zak and Franco have had impressive seasons in Formula 3,” said Sven Smeets, Williams Racing's Sporting Director, “and we’re now looking forward to giving them the opportunity to drive the FW45 in Abu Dhabi to aid their development as part of their roles in the Williams Racing Driver Academy.
“The pair have demonstrated a high level of understanding and maturity during their simulator work conducted at Grove. I know they'll both be working hard in preparation for this experience and will make the most of it.”