It had been a season with a few highlights up to that point but in Budapest on Feature Race day, Zak O’Sullivan captured all the attention in some style. The Briton powered through in tricky conditions to rebound in what was a tough race, earning himself P4 having been running outside the top 15 places just a handful of laps earlier.
The wet-to-dry Budapest Feature Race was one of the most action-packed of the season and it was hard to pick a fight to focus on as the race unfolded. For O’Sullivan, his targets were changing corner by corner as the Carlin driver scythed his way from back to front.
After the Friday Qualifying session which left him 22nd and the Sprint event in which he finished 18th, the weekend hadn’t quite gone to plan for the Briton. Running 17th for the first half of the Feature on Sunday and it looked as though he was leaving Hungary without any points to add to his Championship total. Queue an inspired decision that the Carlin team credits entirely to the driver, and one of the most thrilling drives of the season.
Dropping down the order to almost dead last after swapping his wet Pirelli tyres for slicks, O’Sullivan was soon flying, finding the grip where others were tip-toeing their way to the chequered flag. In the space of two laps, he’d climbed back inside the top 20 and was up to 11th, dispatching five cars in a single lap on lap 22.
Almost 10 seconds off a point-paying position of P10, the Carlin driver went from strength to strength, moving into 7th starting the final tour and lap 24. He wasn’t done either. At the beginning of the lap, he was 6.9s off of Arthur Leclerc in P6. Chasing down his rivals through the final corners, he got past the Monégasque, and Kush Maini of MP Motorsport and Jak Crawford’s PREMA Racing car for P4, capping off a stellar performance that earned him the Best Comeback Dallara Award in F3 at the Prize Giving Ceremony.
“We were originally going to start the race on the slicks but about five minutes before the start on the grid, the rain came and that put that out of the question,” O’Sullivan recalled as he accepted his award. “Then about halfway through the race I saw Juan Manuel Correa pit behind me, then I made the call to my engineer, and it turned out to be the correct call.”