After driving for the first time in a Formula 1 car at Silverstone in June, Alpine F1 Academy driver Olli Caldwell spoke about his experience driving the A521 last year.
He also looks back on his first contact with the French design, at a time when the management of Oscar Piastri’s future raises questions…
“It was in the middle of the season last year. I think the talks with Alpine and my manager started around Budapest last season,” revealed Caldwell, who currently holds 19th place in the F2 championship.
“There were performance clauses last year and then I signed with them, I don’t remember when, it was very early and the announcement was in January. But I think the talks started after the initial contract was signed, so say around December or January I was sure that I would try in F1 .”
The 20-year-old Briton was able to compare the big differences between F1 and F2, especially in the turns.
“Honestly, I quickly got used to the slow corners which are not so many at Silverstone, only turns 3, 4, 16 and 17 are like this. In these curves, I was close to the benchmark but, in the fast corners, it’s a whole other world compared and F2.”
“Driving with these 13-inch tires you can mix a lot of things. For example, when you are 9 years old, you go to F1, when in F2 there is heavy braking and then you take your foot off the accelerator. but that’s where I had to get used to more compared to the F2.
To prepare for his Silverstone race, Caldwell first trained on the F1 2021 video game.
“First of all, I drove the car at Silverstone in the F1 2021 game. Then I spent the whole day in the Alpine simulator, which was very good. The way the car handles is very realistic. So I was able to get a good idea before hitting the track.”
“With the simulator, the most important thing was to learn how to change the behavior of the car from the steering wheel. Because in F1, you have a lot of switches and dials to change. It was very real from this point of view. seen there, but of course the simulator cannot to mimic the 6Gs or 7Gs you pick up at Funza and Becketts.”
Once tracked down, Caldwell wanted “Complete as many laps as possible. Another goal was to learn different engine power techniques between qualifying and the race. We did two or three laps of the race while learning to control all these buttons on the steering wheel.”
The Brit could be back behind the wheel of the A521 later in the season: “If there is another test, it will be during the summer break or later in the year.”