One of the returnees to the FIA Formula 3 Championship in 2023, Zak O’Sullivan is the latest to reflect on his career so far and pick out those who have impacted his journey the most.
Family of course played a big role, but so too did an iconic combination that dominated F1 in the early 2000s for the PREMA Racing man.
“He’s supported me throughout my racing, travelling with each other. We went into racing when I was eight quite blind to it, and it’s been a bit of an eventful journey, but I’ve always had his support.
“It started out as a bit of a hobby. I saw a go-kart at the Autosport Awards on sale that had a Ferrari livery on it. Then for my eighth birthday as a present, I got a kart as a birthday present. There was a derelict tennis court nearby to where we lived, and I just went there and sort of drove around in circles for a bit and it went from there. We moved up through national karting and we had a big step up into international karting and then into F4, F3 and now here.
“It’s quite funny now but it definitely wasn’t at the time, I remember I broke my ribs karting on the Friday of one race weekend, but I kept going, taking painkillers to get through the rest of the weekend. At the time he had recently had a wisdom tooth out so he had plenty of painkillers on him so I had a few of those. That was probably my worst and best karting memory, but it was some teamwork that sticks out in my mind from us both.”
“Michael was probably the driver I supported the most when I was watching F1 growing up. I was always saw the red crash helmet on TV and now having grown up racing, I’ve grown to respect more and more his achievements. He’s a pretty big influence on my racing.
“My earliest memory is Monaco, when he was on pole but didn’t start there because of a penalty. I remember being pretty impressed, my dad supported him, and I was happy that he got that pole, especially with where he was in his career at that age. It was super impressive. But I’ve watched documentaries about him and his career, how he transformed things in terms of training when he came into F1, winning at all costs and sometimes controversially. He brought a new scene to F1 and changed the way modern drivers are.
“You mainly take it on board when you’re in car racing as it’s a bit more relatable, you need to be stronger and fitter. You also learn how to manage races a bit better. In karting, it’s a bit more fun but after my first year of F4, I took a bit more on board and approached things a bit more seriously in the same vein he would.”
“He’s someone I really respect. He did so well at Ferrari, transforming them into the winning machine they were for those years and then starting off his own team which I doubt will ever happen again – a team winning in its first year in F1. That was pretty cool. He’s been involved in F1 heavily, making the right changes to improve the racing and wherever he’s involved, things usually are going well, even Mercedes right at the beginning of their days to what they’ve turned into now. That’s a good example of keeping the same approach across the board and getting results.”