The reigning Ginetta Junior Rookie Cup champion arrived in Kent off the back of a strong opening weekend at Donington Park, where he took a win in his first-ever single seater event and left with an early championship lead.
This strong form continued into the second round of the series on the iconic Grand Prix circuit, with the 15-year-old taking pole position for races one and three and taking lights-to-flag wins in both, extending his points lead to 18 over Luke Browning (Fortec). The only downside to the weekend was a mechanical retirement in the second encounter, caused by a drivetrain component failure.
After heading the second of Friday’s free practice sessions, O’Sullivan took pole position for the Carlin team in Saturday’s qualifying in a time of 1:27.255. He also secured pole for Sunday’s third race, where the grid is based on second-fastest times from qualifying.
Showing a cool head under pressure, series rookie O’Sullivan led every lap of the opening encounter, resisting late pressure from Browning to take the flag by just under 0.4 seconds. Saturday’s partially-reversed grid second race saw O’Sullivan fighting in the pack, but his charge came to an end on lap eight when he was forced to pull into the pits and retire. But he bounced back in fine style in Sunday’s third race, televised live on ITV4, where he kept Browning and Alex Connor (Arden) at bay throughout and took fastest lap into the bargain.
O’Sullivan, from Withington, near Cirencester, said: “Getting the double pole certainly helped me here. “It’s pretty hard to overtake at this circuit so I felt like I had things under control in the lead. It doesn’t make for the most exciting races, but I’m not complaining! Brands isn’t one of my favourite tracks but I like driving it in qualifying. In the races, it is quite a high-risk circuit, so it is all about risk management from the start. Plus, it was a very hot weekend! It peaked at 37 degrees just before the first race and I spent most of the time out of the car with the air conditioning on in the truck. But once you’re in the race, it’s not that bad. Race two was unlucky but it was nobody’s fault. It was a problem that had never happened before.”
The standings make for good reading for O’Sullivan with six races in the book, but he says he isn’t thinking about that when he’s in the car. “I’m not really thinking about the championship. I’m just focusing on myself and getting the most I can out of every weekend,” he said. “It is a bit of a surprise to be doing so well as we weren’t that fast in pre-season testing.”
After a week’s break, the British F4 season returns to action at Oulton Park in Cheshire (August 21-23) “I quite like Oulton Park, it’s similar to Brands Hatch as it’s difficult to overtake there,” said O’Sullivan.
“I’d quite happily do more back-to-back weekends but I think the team are thankful for the break!”