Monza Mayhem to Magic: Ollie’s Italian Job
The Monza Grand Prix, held at the iconic Autodromo Nazionale Monza, is always a spectacle to behold. Known for its high-speed straights and thrilling overtaking opportunities, the historic circuit lived up to its reputation with the Prema drivers taking double victories in the team home race.
As the home of Ferrari, Monza holds a special place in the hearts of racing enthusiasts, making it practically essential for Ollie, a Ferrari Academy driver, to perform over the weekend.
Qualifying got off to a slow start as no driver wanted to be first in the queue, but with 20 minutes remaining, Ollie found himself just 0.064 seconds behind the leader, Victor Martins. As the clock ticked down and the inevitable chaos of Monza qualifying ensued, Ollie secured second place for Sunday’s Feature Race.
Featuring the reverse grid lineup, Saturday’s Sprint race promised excitement as Ollie started in ninth place. Monza’s wide straights and overtaking opportunities make it a favourite track for those drivers looking to make up track position.
The race got off to a dramatic start as Cordeel spun on the first lap, prompting an instant Safety Car. Ollie had dropped down to 12th place in the racing drama but by the time racing was underway again on Lap 4, Ollie was ready to charge. In P10 by Lap 8 and another Safety Car on Lap 12, Ollie was primed to pounce by Lap 16 when the race restarted, immediately snatching P9.
In a hair-raising moment for Dennis Hauger on Lap 16, which saw the Norwegian momentarily airborne over the gravel at the Ascari chicane, Ollie secured eighth place with five laps to go. Ollie was seventh to cross the line at the end of the Sprint, later promoted to P6 after both Hadjar and Crawford received time penalties.
Having finished second in the FIA Formula 3 race at Monza in 2022, Ollie had high hopes for Sunday’s Feature Race. Starting second on the grid, once he had claimed the lead in the race he did not look back - which was ultimately for the best, in a race that included not one, not two but five safety cars.
After initially getting a good start from P1, Pourchaire was able to cover Ollie going into Turn 1. However, on the run into Turn 4, the Ferrari Academy driver was able to take advantage of the slipstream to claim P1. Despite winning the Sprint Race, Ollie’s Prema teammate Vesti’s Feature Race came to an early end, with the Dane spinning into the barriers on the opening lap, beckoning the first of five Safety Cars.
Back racing by Lap 4, Leclerc was next to spin out, prompting the return of the Safety Car. This time, Ollie pitted for his mandatory stop, emerging from the pitlane still ahead of Pourchaire.
With two Safety Cars in the first ten laps, it was difficult to build race momentum or gain much of a time advantage over those behind him. Despite this, when the third Safety Car, deployed after Zane Maloney pinballed his way down the pit straight, came in, Ollie restarted the race on Lap 15, quickly building a lead of over two seconds.
Ollie finished the race in first place, collecting 25 points. After Monza, he is now sixth in the championship going into the last race of the year, while Prema Racing is only 24 points behind the leading constructors.
With it all still to drive for, attention now turns to Yas Marina for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Join us for the 14th and final round of the Formula 2 season on November 24-26.