It was a weekend of what could have been for Zak O’Sullivan. Entering Round 9 at Spa-Francorchamps as Gabriel Bortoleto’s nearest title rival, the PREMA Racing driver had a shot at clawing back the longtime Championship leader's advantage as he qualified firmly within the points-scoring positions.
Follow the Briton’s thoughts through a challenging penultimate round of the 2023 campaign, as tyre choices ultimately proved costly to his title ambitions and he discovered that when it rains at the Belgian circuit, it pours.
“I had confidence in the car straightaway in the wet conditions, the pace was really strong. Every time we seemed to be on track, we were near the top, which is always nice. In the end, we didn’t do many laps trying to save the tyres for the rest of the weekend. I think I ended up P7, but at the time we stopped we were P1.
“Being quick out of the box just kind of happens. I’m not sure why, but we always seem quite strong from the initial laps. Qualifying in the top five to six is the plan, but I don’t know what the weather is going to do so.”
“It was an interesting Quali, not bad. It was one of those sessions where it started off quite wet and then just dried throughout. Unfortunately, we were a bit too early on the last run, by the time I did my lap, I was fastest. Then as the track dried, five of the drivers improved. It’s no bad, only three and a bit tenths from pole. Obviously, starting P7 for the Sprint and then P6 for the Feature, so we’ll see if we can make some ground.
“It’s a bit tricky to manage, especially on the wets. When the track’s drying on slicks, it’s a bit easier because you can just keep pushing. On the wets, after one push, they’re already kind of overheated, so it’s a big cool down. It’s a bit tricky, you know you can’t do any track limits at least because usually that next lap is always a second or two faster. It’s a bit stressful, you almost have to drive at 90% just to make sure you have a clean lap.”
“Not many racing laps! In general, the pace seemed quite good. Obviously, the track was very wet to start with. The whole grid went on slicks, so a kind of hectic couple of laps, but as I said, the pace was good. We managed to make up three places within those laps, so can’t complain. I think it puts us in quite a good step for tomorrow’s Feature Race. I don’t know if I’d prefer it to be wet or dry, that was kind of in-between. We’ve had half a taste of the dry and the pace seemed quite strong, but it also seemed quite good in the wet.
“Like always, you just want to score as many points as possible. Of course, it’s a bit irritating to have no points for the Sprint Race, but we’ll see if we can gain some points back tomorrow.”
“Not the best race in terms of results. I started the race on slicks in P5 and it didn’t really pay off in the end, the track was a bit too wet. I thought it would dry or we all thought it would dry like it did yesterday. Unfortunately, it didn’t. So, when all the drivers on wets boxed or stayed out, they jumped up. It’s one of those things, it was 50/50. Shame to have a pointless weekend after looking fast, but one of those things."
“I don’t really know what my hopes are to be honest. This weekend, I was hoping for a bit more than what I got. We’ll see. Monza is always a bit of a lottery with the slipstreams etc. It’s the final round, it’s a bit of a chaotic one, so hopefully I’m on the right side of the luck.”