6 JUNE, 2017 – As far as birthday presents go, competing in the UK’s leading junior single-seater series is probably one of the best. It’s exactly what’s in store for TRS Arden’s Olli Caldwell along with cakes and balloons. He celebrates his 15th birthday on Sunday 11 June and therefore becomes eligible to race in the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford EcoBoost at Croft Circuit. In doing so he will make history by becoming the youngest driver to compete in British F4.
Following an international karting career, which brought great success both in the UK and Europe, Caldwell competed in the second half of the Ginetta Junior Championship last year. While waiting patiently on the sidelines so far this season, Caldwell has been hard at work preparing for the challenge of racing against some of motorsport’s most talented junior drivers.
“I’ve been training hard physically, getting ready for my first race,” said Caldwell. “I’m part of the Young Racing Driver Academy and I’ve been working really well with them. I’ve also got a personal trainer who does three sessions with me every week.
“I attended some of the British F4 meetings earlier in the season to develop my understanding and to ensure I know what to expect. I feel prepared for what lies ahead.
“With my birthday on Sunday I’ll miss qualifying and race one on Saturday so I know I’m going start at the back of the grid which takes the pressure off a bit, but I’ll be able to test on Friday which is good.
“So many of the British F4 races this season have been action-packed and it has just made me even more eager to race. I’m really looking forward to this weekend.
“I chose to race in British F4 as opposed to any of the other F4 championships simply because it’s the best. It’s incredibly competitive and it brings the best out of drivers.”
Caldwell’s desire and determination to get behind the wheel has been clear for all to see, including TRS Arden team manager Ben Bloomfield: “Olli has been desperate to get in the car. He’s seen all his team-mates racing on track and it’s been really hard to keep him away. He’s always in the workshop and his father is always phoning us up to check on progress. Olli is so excited. He’s keen and he’s ready.
“We’ve been doing a lot of simulator work with him as part of his preparation so he can hit the ground running. He certainly knows how to race. We saw that when he raced in the Ginetta Junior Championship.
“He’s been working with Arden and the YRDA for a long time. We helped him throughout karting and he’s gone from strength to strength. He’s a fast learner.”
Caldwell’s rate of progression in the Ford EcoBoost-powered racer has been impressive. Despite having less seat time than many of his rivals, the youngster from Stockbridge, Hampshire was frequently found in the top 10 on the timesheets during the recent official organised test days at Croft and Snetterton.
Caldwell is entered into the Ford F4 Challenge Cup. It sees drivers contest a maximum of seven meetings for a share of a £10,000 prize fund courtesy of Ford Motor Company and free entry to the overall championship in 2018 worth £15,000.
“Olli’s arrival is certainly going to make the Ford F4 Challenge Cup even more interesting,” said Bloomfield. “It’s going to be tough to win it because he can only contest six meetings due to the timing of his birthday. It means he’s already lost one seventh of his point scoring opportunities in comparison to his rivals, but I’m hopeful he can still come out on top.
“Although experience isn’t necessarily on his side, coming into the championship at pretty much the halfway point, we’re going to give him every chance to be successful. We’ve got a strong team, a good car and a lot of talented people around him.”
When asked about his ambitions for this season Caldwell is focused on two things, the Ford F4 Challenge Cup and his family who have been with him every step of the way.
“Everyone in my family is really excited about my debut,” he said. “They’ve supported me throughout my career, all the way through karting. In many ways this is more than just my journey. It’s a family journey which makes it even more special. I want to make them proud.
“I hope we can take the fight to the other drivers in the Ford F4 Challenge Cup. Oliver York currently tops the standings and he’s been driving so well. It will be tough, but I’ll give it my best shot.”