After a baptism of fire at the Jeddah circuit, Campos Racing rookie Olli Caldwell is excited to be competing at a circuit he knows well, as the Formula 3 race-winner prepares for his second Formula 2 outing at Yas Marina.
Caldwell debuted in F2 last weekend along with Clément Novalak, Jack Doohan and Logan Sargeant at the high-speed street circuit, a brand-new addition to the calendar and a complete unknown for all 22 drivers.
And after tackling its many challenges, Caldwell believes he’s better equipped to perform in the final round.
“Having learned the F2 car - even though Jeddah wasn't the easiest place to learn it at – I can now come to a track that I know, knowing the car, and hopefully I can have a good result,” Caldwell said. “I am really excited to be back here. I've driven here quite a few times and I really like this track. It’s good to be back.
“To be honest, jumping from F3 to F2 wasn't as big a step as I expected, which is quite good. There are still a lot of things to learn. For example, the tyre warm-up is massively different. The Feature Race didn’t happen as expected, but I was still given an opportunity to learn the option tyres.
“All of that is going to help, especially in Qualifying, with the tyre warm-up and the need to maximise the different tyre compounds.”
Qualifying is where Caldwell believes he can make the most gains in his second round. The British racer made the top 15 in Free Practice but was then down in 19th in Qualifying after a struggle to warm up his Pirellis.
“We had a good result in practice,” said Caldwell, who finished 18th, 12th and 16th in his first three races. “I was really happy with a place in the top 15, I think that was a good result. All of the rookies were in and around that, so to be close to them was good.
“I completely messed up the tyre warm-up in Qualifying though, and that cost us a lot of time, around 1-1.5s. Looking at the results, that would have put me back into the top 15 again, which I would have been happy with.
“Position wise, I don't really want to look at that as it adds pressure, but internally I want to see improvements made on the mistakes that I made in Jeddah.”
Caldwell also felt the benefits of his pre-existing relationship with Campos, having spent some time getting to know the team ahead of his debut. But having switched from an Italian team to a Spanish one, he says he’s got some homework to do.
“Luckily enough, I was able to spend a few weeks with the team before Jeddah, so I already knew them quite well, which helps,” continued Caldwell. “It would have been difficult to be thrown into a new car, a new track, and a new team all at the same time.
“I get on with the team really well luckily. I have got to learn a new language, though. I was only just starting to learn Italian and now I’ve got to learn Spanish! But they are very similar.”