Academy Report: Trio try something new

Published on
27 Nov 2023
Est. reading time
3 Min

Zak O’Sullivan drives in FP1, Franco Colapinto makes his F2 debut and Lia Block tests Formula 4 machinery

Abu Dhabi was the end-of-season race for Williams Racing's Formula One crew — for our Driver Academy, though, there were some new beginnings.
Zak O'Sullivan and Franco Colapinto joined us for the finale, with Zak jumping in the FW45 on Friday and Franco debuting in Formula 2.
Elsewhere, Lia Block swapped off-road rubber for a set of slicks as she prepares to switch to single-seaters for her F1 Academy season next year.

Formula 1

The hours and hours in the sim and months and months of training at Grove all came to fruition for Zak on Friday afternoon at the Yas Marina Circuit. The British youngster joined us in the garage to drive the FW45 in place of Alex Albon for a day he'll never forget.
Aside from doing the most important thing on any tryout of a new car by returning it in one piece, Zak clocked in the most miles of any driver in F1's first practice session. A whopping 28 tours of the track mean the F3 vice-champion driver had almost 150km of running in a single session — that's nearly half a grand prix!
With Zak returning for more in Tuesday's post-season test, he will continue adding valuable F1 experience to end 2023 on a high worthy of a vice-champ.

Formula 2

Getting a head start on the 2024 season was the aim of Franco's three days with his MP Motorsport team as he made the considerable step up from Formula 3 to Formula 2 at Yas Marina. Along with Paul Aron, Franco was one of two rookie drivers learning how the F2 weekend works in Abu Dhabi.
A P20 qualifying meant our Argentinian hopeful was the highest-placed newcomer and would start both the Sprint and Feature Race from the penultimate row. Franco kept his cool to cross the line P19 on Saturday during a rare chaos-free weekend in F1's second tier, but a sensor issue in the Feature Race meant he had to retire the car on Sunday.
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The season isn't over for Franco, though. He will join Zak on Tuesday as the pair split driving duties in the post-season test for his first taste of the F1 cockpit.

F1 Academy

The new season of F1 Academy won't start until the 2024 Saudi Arabian GP weekend, but our newest Williams Racing Driver Academy recruit, Lia Block, is already preparing. Lia wasn't with us in Abu Dhabi, but she did take a transatlantic trip last week, heading to Spain for two days of testing.
MotorLand Aragón, a Hermann Tilke-designed circuit between Barcelona and Valencia, was the venue for Lia to tackle with Formula 4 machinery. The 5.344km track is akin to its Spanish sibling, the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, with a varied mixture of slow, medium, and high-speed corners — a perfect mixture for a driver to familiarise themselves with circuit racing.
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