IN HIS WORDS: Zak's maiden F2 win in Monaco

Published on
30 May 2024
Est. reading time
4 Min

Zak O'Sullivan shares the inside story behind his stunning first F2 victory

There aren't many locations more special to win a race than Monte Carlo, and the Monaco weekend represented a breakthrough first for Zak O'Sullivan.
Our British Williams Racing Driver Academy hopeful stormed to an incredible Feature Race win from P15 for his first triumph in Formula 2 on the Monaco Grand Prix's Sunday morning.
How did Zak manage such an astonishing result? He spoke to us to reveal all.
A rather special trophy for Zak
A rather special trophy for Zak
In case you missed it, Zak ran 40 laps of the 42-lap Feature Race on a single tyre set in the hope that a Safety Car appeared to allow him a 'free' pit stop.
That Safety Car never materialised, but a crash at the pit exit had yellow flags waving, and he peeled into the pits from the lead just before the VSC boards illuminated, letting him take his mandatory stop and the race victory.
"In the strategy meeting the night before, we went through every possibility," said Zak.
"The top four or five started on the prime tyre, so we went for that — It seemed like the less risky option at the time because it was less of a Safety Car risk.
"There was a longer window where you could have a Safety Car and not be at a disadvantage.
"I sat there managing my tyres with the expectation to go quite long.
"Luckily for me, people started peeling into the pits around lap 25-30, which was a lot earlier than we thought.
"From then on, I had clean air, the tyres started to clean up, and I essentially had a window of, I think, 15 laps where I could just do quali laps.
"The pace was really strong, which was the main thing. I think luck fell our way, but without the strong pace, it would never have really worked."
Luck certainly did favour the lengthy stint, as Zak's eventual pit stop came moments before the VSC deployment, which would've prevented him from stopping due to F2's rules.
Stopping four seconds later would've seen him disqualified rather than victorious because he needed to pit outside a VSC slowdown.
WATCH: Zak celebrates his Monaco win
"My engineer told me victory was possible," said Zak. "But he said 'only if there's a Safety Car'.
"I thought, well, I hope there's a Safety Car, but I doubt it. I kind of ignored the comment, to be honest. I thought that's wishful thinking.
"But I was being told, 'We're quickest on track; we're fighting for a really good position if we keep this pace'.
"The VSC came at just the perfect time as I came into the pits. I couldn't have asked for better timing.
"For sure, the timing of that was kind of one in a million."
"It's probably not the most important win of my career, but one I'll remember for a long time, just because of the way it was... the way it happened.
“It's Monaco, so it's probably the one race, besides your home race, you really want to win.
"I couldn't believe it, to be honest. For the first hour, I was like, we just won, but it didn't feel like it.
"Normally, if you're leading a race for a long time, you're building up to it, ready to celebrate, and then suddenly there I was in the lead.
"It was a very, very cool experience and one I'm sure I'll never forget."
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Zak's win was one of three Sunday celebrations for Williams, with Luke taking a podium finish in F3's earlier Feature Race and Alex taking our first F1 points of the season.
Of course, the Williams team were there for everybody to begin the celebrations.
"I saw everyone in the pits afterwards and, also, under the podium," remembers Zak.
"I had a lot of media duties to do straightaway afterwards with F2 and press conferences, etc.
"I watched the F3 race before, as we always do. It was good to see Luke had the podium.
"At that point, I didn't really expect myself to be on the podium.
"I think also from the F1 side, it's arguably one of their more challenging tracks in the past.
"It's a good sign of the improvements that have been made over the winter that they're able to score points around Monaco."
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