Zak O’Sullivan demonstrated that overtaking around the streets of Monte Carlo was never off the table. Taking advantage of the window of opportunity on the opening laps of the Feature Race, the PREMA Racing driver rocketed from P13 to seventh by the chequered flag.
Recording his third top ten finish out of six races in his sophomore campaign, O’Sullivan was pleased to see that his choice to gamble on making moves rather than playing it safe proved to be an inspired decision.
“Getting six positions is always nice around Monaco. I had a really good Lap 1 and managed to grab a couple of positions there. I think it was the only time to overtake so I took quite a few risks, but it paid off. From there, I think everyone’s pace was quite similar around here as we saw in the Sprint.
“In the Feature, there were a couple more opportunities for overtaking as the race is a bit longer. I just settled down into a rhythm. I think everyone had similar problems with degradation through the race and the tyres, some people having them in different phases. The pace was good at the start and at the end with a bit of a drop in the middle, but I’m really quite happy.”
All the action seemed to unfold within the opening metres of Sunday morning’s running, as O’Sullivan went wheel-to-wheel with Grégoire Saucy through Turn 1 and up the hill. Finally getting the job done down on the approach to the hairpin, he immediately sized up on those ahead.
As Josep María Martí and Gabriel Bortoleto tried to skirt around the outside of his fellow Williams Academy junior Franco Colapinto, it opened the door for O’Sullivan. In a drag race down to the exit of the swimming, the Briton dived past the #23 Campos Racing driver and put himself solidly within the points.
Enjoying the thrills and spills that Monaco had to offer, O’Sullivan admitting that Thursday’s wet to dry running held him back from achieving more than seventh in his group, having a knock-on effect on his chances for the weekend.
“It’s been cool, a bit of a learning curve I think for the drivers who haven’t been here before. Not having a drier Free Practice didn’t really help going into Qualifying a bit blind. Also, with the shorter group Qualifying, you only get about three push laps.
“I wasn’t quite on it in Qualifying and then you’re on the backfoot for the rest of the weekend. The pace in the races was an improvement for sure, especially in the Feature Race, but hoping for a bit more in Barcelona.”
Round 5 is swiftly coming up with next weekend’s return to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, O’Sullivan is keen to get his one-lap pace in check to build some momentum. The Spanish circuit’s revised configuration sees the removal of the chicane before the final corner through Turns 14 and 15, replaced by a high-speed sweeping right hand turn.
Having already tested the new layout in testing last month, O’Sullivan believes that nailing Friday will be critical once more, as he aims to add to his tally of one win and two points-scoring finishes to bridge the gap from ninth in the Standings.
“Again, I think Barcelona is a tricky track to overtake on. Like always, the focus is Qualifying, especially I think with the new last sector. From testing at least, it seemed like tyre degradation was a bit worse and it also might be a bit harder to follow. Qualifying is the key, that’s going to be our main focus, as for most people. Guess I can tell you after Friday!”