Williams have announced that academy prospect Zak O’Sullivan will get his first public outing in a Formula 1 car during first practice at the 2023 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

O’Sullivan previously drove F1 machinery when he got a run in Aston Martin’s 2021 car at Silverstone after being awarded the Aston Martin Autosport BRDC Award.

However, that outing didn’t ensure he met the necessary 300km mark “in a representative F1 car consistently at racing speed” to qualify for the FIA’s practice superlicense.

Therefore, Williams arranged for O’Sullivan to accumulate the missing mileage he required in a two-year-old F1 car, paving the way for him to be eligible for the opportunity.

It was confirmed yesterday that the Briton will be moving into Formula 2 next season with ART Grand Prix, having finished as runner-up in Formula 3 this season.

The 18-year-old will replace Alex Albon for FP1 at the Yas Marina Circuit, guaranteeing that Williams complies with the FIA regulation that mandates every race driver in each team has to give up an FP1 session for a rookie driver who has started no more than two grands prix.

But Logan Sargeant, who is currently competing in his maiden F1 campaign, counted towards the criteria when he made an appearance at the season-opener in Bahrain.

O’Sullivan will also participate in the end-of-season Young Driver Test following the conclusion of F1’s Abu Dhabi GP weekend.

“I’m really excited to participate in FP1 at Abu Dhabi,” O’Sullivan said. “I can’t wait to get behind the wheel of the FW45 for the first time and get some good mileage under my belt.

“In addition to that, I’m returning to the car for the post-season rookie test to further my development with the team. Huge thanks to Williams Racing for the opportunity and for putting their faith in me to drive the 2023 car.”

Franco Colapinto (ARG) MP Motorsport celebrates his third position on the podium. 23.07.2023. FIA Formula 3 Championship, Rd 8, Feature Race, Budapest, Hungary, Sunday

Meanwhile, fellow Williams junior member Franco Colapinto will conduct his debut run in an F1 car alongside O’Sullivan in the post-season test.

The Argentine classified fourth in F3 and will make the transition into F2 in Abu Dhabi this year ahead of a full-time season in the series with MP Motorsport next season.

“I am extremely grateful to Williams Racing for giving me the opportunity to drive an F1 car in only my first year in the Academy,” Colapinto expressed.

“I’ve been dreaming of this day since I was a kid and have been working really hard for this. To have this chance at the official young driver test is a real honour.

“Thank you to the team for entrusting me with the FW45. Being part of the Academy this year has opened my eyes in so many different areas and I feel ready to make this step. I can’t wait.”

Williams Sporting Director Sven Smeets added: “Both Zak and Franco have had impressive seasons in Formula 3 and we’re now looking forward to giving them the opportunity to drive the FW45 in Abu Dhabi to aid their development as part of their roles in the Williams Racing Driver Academy.

“The pair have demonstrated a high level of understanding and maturity during their simulator work conducted at Grove.

“I know they’ll both be working hard in preparation for this experience and will make the most of it.”

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