Williams Driver Academy: Which promising young drivers have Williams recruited?

Thomas Maher
Williams Driver Academy Zak O'Sullivan races in 2022.

With Logan Sargeant graduating from the Williams Driver Academy with a full-time race seat in 2023, who are the leading lights of the junior programme?

American driver Logan Sargeant was signed to the Williams Driver Academy in 2021 and, following a strong season in Formula 2 in 2022, has been promoted to a full-time race seat.

While the Williams Academy may not be quite as well-established or as well-known as the likes of Ferrari’s or Red Bull’s, Sargeant’s promotion shows the team are taking their junior programmes seriously – meaning their current signings are serious prospects for potential race seats in the coming years.

Let’s look through the current talents on Williams’ books in their Driver Academy.

Jamie Chadwick

Signed by Williams under then-deputy team principal Claire Williams, Jamie Chadwick became one of motorsport’s most high-profile female racing drivers as an F1 team took her under their wing.

Four years later, and Chadwick’s star hasn’t dimmed – aided considerably by three consecutive W Series title wins in 2019, 2021, and 2022. Of the 21 W Series races held over those three seasons, Chadwick has won 11 of them with a further seven podium finishes.

However, Chadwick had a less stellar showing in the 2020 Formula Regional European Championship. Driving one of the four Prema entries, her three teammates claimed the top three positions in the final standings, while Chadwick could only manage ninth overall.

For 2023, Chadwick will retain Williams’ support while she competes in the 2023 Indy NXT (a rebranding of IndyCar’s feeder series Indy Lights) with Andretti Autosport.

She’ll have a personalised simulator programme to aid in her driver progression, as well as working in a support role for the team’s race preparations.

“To be continuing my relationship with Williams is amazing,” Chadwick said, as she was confirmed by Williams for another year in their academy.

“I’ve had their support since 2019. Having the opportunity to immerse myself within the team and keep that Formula 1 dream alive is very important.

“I look forward to seeing what we can achieve together.”

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Zak O’Sullivan

17-year-old British racer Zak O’Sullivan was signed by Williams in 2022, having won the 2021 GB3 (formerly British F3) Championship with Carlin.

Prior to that, O’Sullivan finished second in the 2020 British F4 Championship and the 2019 Ginetta Junior Championship.

O’Sullivan stayed with Carlin for 2022, moving up to Formula 3, scoring two podium finishes with a second place at Silverstone and a third place at Zandvoort.

Finishing 11th in the Drivers’ Championship, he tested for Prema at the conclusion of 2022 and was signed by the Italian squad for the 2023 F3 season. Around the same time, O’Sullivan also got his first chance to drive an F1 car as he stepped into the Aston Martin AMR21 for some laps at Silverstone – a reward for winning the 2021 Autosport BRDC Award.

Oliver Gray

18-year-old Oliver Gray, signed by Williams in 2022, has only been in single-seater racing for two years, having kicked off with a year in Formula 4 in 2021.

In 2022, Gray raced in F4 in the UAE and in the British F4 Championship, finishing second overall in the UK series.

Gray steps up to Formula 3 in 2023, racing for Carlin.

Franco Colapinto

Argentine-Italian racer Franco Colapinto has been signed by Williams ahead of the 2023 season, following on from his strong first season in Formula 3.

Claiming two wins and three further podium finishes, Colapinto finished ninth overall during his season with Van Amersfoort Racing.

He’ll race for MP Motorsport in 2023 for another season in F3, for whom he raced in FREC in 2021 en route to sixth place overall.

Colapinto also dabbled with sportscar racing in 2021, driving for G-Drive in LMP2 in the European Le Mans Series and an attempt at the 2021 Le Mans 24 Hours. Teaming up with Nyck de Vries and Roman Rusinov, they finished 12th overall at Le Mans, while Colapinto scored a win at Paul Ricard.

Williams’ newest signing told Motorsport.com what his duties in 2023 are likely to entail.

“I’m going to do simulator work and I’ll also go to some F1 races as a member of the team, sharing the weekend with the drivers, engineers and so on. Obviously it will be a race that doesn’t coincide with F3. It will be two or three, surely,” he said.

“Once I’m in Europe and a little bit of time passes, I’ll have an even clearer idea. Hopefully, they need me a lot and I have to put in a lot of work to help them develop their car, which would be something I’d love to do.

“The work in the simulator will surely be focused first on helping the team and then also on my handling and improving as a driver, adapting to F1, which is very complicated and you have to learn all the buttons, the controls, a lot of things so that when I get in the car, if that chance comes, be fully prepared and obviously give my best at that moment, which is going to be key.”