Academy Report: Six in action on a wet weekend

Published on
12 Feb 2024
Est. reading time
3 Min

Pre-Season Testing, Single Seater Debuts and Karting in the rain

Header Image: Zak O'Sullivan at Bahrain Testing - Copyright: Formula Motorsport Limited
The step-up of Grove activity after last week's FW46 launch wasn't just kept within the Formula 1 world, with the Williams Driver Academy also stepping up their activities.
Racing and testing began for many of our members, with six members in action over the past week and more track time scheduled in the coming days.

Formula 2

Zak O'Sullivan and Franco Colapinto are already in Bahrain ahead of their full-time debut in racing's second tier when March hits.
F2's official pre-season testing began on Sunday, with the 22-strong field taking on the Sakhir circuit in the all-new 2024 Formula 2 car.
Even with some much more experienced drivers in the field, this Dallara F2 2024 chassis is an entirely different vehicle for everyone to learn, evening the playing field for rookies like our pair.
That seems to have helped Zak and Franco early on; both ended up inside the top 10 on the opening day despite some rare Bahrain rain interrupting the running.

Formula 3

Luke Browning in Bahrain
Luke Browning is all smiles ahead of Pre-Season Testing in Bahrain
F2 shares the Sakhir pre-season test with Formula 3 for some busy on-track days for the class of 2024, including Williams Racing's Luke Browning.
As with F2, rain meant the first day wasn't too indicative for any lap times in the unusual-for-Bahrain weather, especially in the morning session.
Luke ended the busier afternoon in P15, the fastest Hitech Pulse-Eight driver by nearly a second, with 21 laps under his belt.
As with Zak and Franco, Luke will be in action on Monday and Tuesday, too, in anticipation of the season's start in support of the Bahrain GP.

F1 Academy

A first taste of single-seater racing action for Lia Block came at Jerez, with a deep Formula Winter Series grid for the teenager to contend with before her Saudi Arabian F1 Academy debut.
Some 38 racers took to the southern Spain circuit to prepare for their summer seasons, and the busy track made for action throughout the field.
Over the three days, Lia kept pace with her more experienced 2024 teammate, Bianca Bustamante, and quickly got used to wheel-to-wheel battling in Formula 4 machinery.
Safety cars, abandoned starts, rain, a drying track, car damage, an unscheduled pit stop, and much more kept Lia busy, and she still managed to reach the chequered flag in all three races.
Armed with that additional experience, our 17-year-old hopeful will continue her preparation for her trip to Jeddah next month by racing in Valencia this weekend at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo.


Oleksandr Bondarev Williams Academy
It was a wet weekend for Oleksandr (pictured) and Sara in Italy
Oleksandr Bondarev's fight for the WSK Super Master Series continued at the Cremona Circuit karting track with another strong performance in challenging conditions.
As with Bahrain and Jerez, the Lombardy track had wet weather affecting all the running over the weekend, but the 14-year-old Ukranian kept his cool to only narrowly miss out on the podium.
His P4 finish means he sits P2 in the standings ahead of the upcoming race at Franciacorta for Round 3 this weekend.
Sara Matsui was also at the soaking Cremona track, qualifying a respectable P7 in the prefinal and P13 in the final of the 36 drivers.
Unfortunately, Sara couldn't complete the final race after a 15-kart incident on the opening lap that eliminated over a third of the field.
Like Oleksandr, she will return to action at Franciacorta to continue growing her motorsport experience.
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