Zak O’Sullivan to drive Williams FW45 in F1 Abu Dhabi FP1

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Zak O’Sullivan will debut on a Formula 1 weekend during the championship’s final round, driving the Williams FW45 in Abu Dhabi.

The Williams Academy driver will replace Alex Albon in FP1, which completes the team’s requirement to field two rookies in practice, as Logan Sargeant’s outing in Bahrain counted.

The 18-year-old will get another F1 experience in quick succession, participating in the rookie test after the Grand Prix.

Photo credits: Williams Racing

O’Sullivan is delighted to drive the Williams ahead of his rookie campaign in Formula 2 next season.

“I’m really excited to participate in FP1 at Abu Dhabi. 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.”

The British driver was blisteringly fast this season, taking four wins, the most of any driver and ending up second in the championship.

O’Sullivan finished above the three other Williams juniors competing in Formula 3 during his second season in the series.

The PREMA driver has been competitive since his first season in a single-seater in 2020. He finished second in British F4, missing out on the title by four points to fellow Williams junior Luke Browning.

The Briton won the GB3 Championship a year later and achieved his super licence, which enabled him to run in Abu Dhabi by driving the Alpine A521 in Bahrain earlier this year.

Argentinian Franco Colapinto will experience his first drive in a Formula 1 car in the post-season test after finishing fourth in FIA F3, just nine points behind O’Sullivan.

Colapinto will step up to FIA F2 in 2024, a season in which the championship will introduce a new car.

The 20-year-old is eagerly anticipating his test in the FW45: “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.

“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.”

Sven Smeets, the Sporting Director at Williams Racing, heaped praise on the pair of juniors: “Both Zak and Franco have had impressive seasons in Formula 3, 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.”