Racing is all about making your own luck - putting yourself in the perfect position to take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. For Campos Racing’s Olli Caldwell, one moment is etched into his mind as being in the right place at exactly the right time.

The Alpine Academy driver gave us an insight into his thoughts and feelings from a rollercoaster race in Barcelona last year, as the Brit made every overtake count and fought all the way to the chequered flag to seize his maiden victory in Formula 3.

“I was pretty nervous on the grid, which I would say most people are as the adrenaline is kicking in before the race,” Caldwell explained. “In terms of my expectations before the race, it was more to get good points and to hopefully finish on the podium – so what ended up happening was a really good result.

“The people in front of me taking each other out was probably one of the biggest moments in that race. Looking back on it, you can say it was luck or whatever but it’s just consistency. I never put myself in a position to be involved in an incident like that. The overtakes I did were a lot more precise, there was never any danger of being involved in accidents.

“I was very nervous! I started to panic on the second to last lap when that happened because I just barely missed one of the cars and I thought I had a puncture. I spent half a lap thinking I had a puncture and then a lap and a half trying to defend from the car that was right behind me because I’d lost the DRS from the cars in front, but the car behind me still had it. It went from being ‘okay this is going to be a really good result; we’re going to finish on the podium’ to ‘oh! I can win this and now I really need to defend from the car behind’.

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Caldwell held off Victor Martins on the final lap Credit Formula 3
Caldwell held off Victor Martins on the final lap (Credit: Formula 3)

“When I crossed the line, it was a relief that the race was over and that the results were going to stand. Also, just excitement and a weight off my shoulders – my first good result for over a year and it was like a pressure had been lifted. It really meant a lot to me as well.

“It was a very special moment. I’d had a difficult year the season before with no podiums and no wins and then to come back and win the second race of the year. It felt like a good comeback and it started a good slope for the race weekends to come.

“I was in a position to win. It wasn’t a lucky draw, I put myself in that position where if these things happen, which they did and they can do as we’ve seen happen in other races. When you’re in that position and the people in front of you make mistakes or put themselves in a difficult position, you’re there to capitalise on that.

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“It’s happened before and it will happen again in the future where these things happen, a lot can change on the last few laps. While luck is obviously a part of it, I put myself and others put themselves in the position to capitalise on that luck when it happens and other people’s mistakes. Being there in the first place is not luck, it’s you who is putting yourself there.

“There’s a time and a place to put yourself in difficult overtaking moves, maybe if someone’s really in your way and you’re trying to get back to the front. It definitely taught me to think a lot more as I drive and to try and plan overtakes better. It also taught me to never give up. With ten laps to go, I think I was fifth or sixth and then came out to win it. Also, I learnt not to rush into things, be very precise and to look ahead whilst being consistent.

Victory secured Caldwells first of four podiums in 2021 Credit Formula 3
Victory secured Caldwell's first of four podiums in 2021 (Credit: Formula 3)

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“For that race it couldn’t have gone better! In terms of the weekend, I could have qualified higher, I didn’t qualify on pole. In the end over the weekend, I didn’t finish Practice in first, qualify in first and win all three races so there’s always things you can improve on, unless you do all those things and get all of the fastest laps – which I think someone is still yet to do.

“After the weekend, I think we had quite a big break before Round 2 so I was able to go home and celebrate it, put the trophy in my house which was nice. I gave it to my parents and it did have pride of place, but I think they moved it for some flowers now,” Caldwell joked. “I wasn’t happy about when I saw that – I think I’ll take it back!”