Formula 3 driver Calan Williams reflects on unforgettable 2021 as he readies himself for F2 testing

Ben SmithThe West Australian
Calan Williams celebrates in France.
Camera IconCalan Williams celebrates in France. Credit: Sebastiaan Rozendaal Dutch Photo Agency/Sebastiaan Rozendaal

From a career-first podium to crossing paths with Daniel Ricciardo and taking in the experience of a Max Verstappen win on his home circuit, 2021 will not be a year Calan Williams forgets quickly.

And after a Formula 3 season to remember, the Edgewater speed demon is hoping another memorable moment is around the corner.

In his second year on the circuit, the Jenzer Motorsport driver secured his first podium on the F3 tour and finished the season as his team’s top driver, securing 19th position in the overall standings.

Williams, however, has put it all in the rear-view mirror — temporarily at least — as he prepares for a trip to Abu Dhabi in December for three days of Formula 2 testing with Trident Motorsport.

The 21-year-old has had just a handful of days off after the season concluded in September, instead readying himself to take the more powerful and heavier F2 cars for a spin.

While he is currently focused on his looming trip to Abu Dhabi, Williams spoke fondly of the indescribable feeling of finishing third in the opening race of his three-race series at Circuit Paul Ricard.

Calan Williams in the second round of the Formula3 Championship 2021 at Circuit Paul Ricard.
Camera IconCalan Williams in the second round of the Formula3 Championship 2021 at Circuit Paul Ricard. Credit: Diederik van der Laan Dutch Photo Agency/Diederik van der Laan

Williams said it was one of the toughest and most intense races of his career, with the top seven separated by less than three seconds — possibly bringing back memories of his time tearing up the track with Tiger Kart Club in Wanneroo.

“It wasn’t a circuit like Hungary or one that’s really difficult to overtake and it’s a race of managing tyres — the one at Paul Ricard, there was basically no tyre wear because they gave us hard compounds,” he said.

“Normally at tracks you have three to five seconds difference from qualifying to the race pace, because the tyres degrade or you have extra fuel in the car.

“But at Paul Ricard, it was one-and-a-half seconds at most difference, so it was it was basically a full push race.

“It was so intense and the adrenaline was going the whole race, and to cross the line with such a good result was amazing.”

Of course, Williams is not the only Perth boy from the northern suburbs travelling around the world as a formula racing driver and the Formula 1, 2 and 3 schedules occasionally overlapping has given Williams the chance to mingle with one of his heroes.

Edgewater product Calan Williams will take part in post-season Formula 2 testing with Trident Motorsport.
Camera IconEdgewater product Calan Williams will take part in post-season Formula 2 testing with Trident Motorsport. Credit: Supplied

“We (Ricciardo) recognise each other occasionally. When I was in Sochi doing the track walk, he was doing it at the same time as me,” he said.

“He stopped to have a chat and gave me some advice about the track as well, which was quite nice.”

“It was quite funny to see when Netflix did the Drive to Survive series and they interviewed Daniel Ricciardo and showed the Wanneroo go-kart circuit on there, because you’re not used to seeing your local go kart club on TV in such a big series like that.”

The shared schedules has also given Williams an insight into the feverous Formula 1 atmosphere which envelopes not just the circuit but entire cities come race week.

“The best atmosphere of the year was undoubtedly Zandvoort. We raced there and they were all supporting their hero Max Verstappen, who was leading the Formula 1 World Championship, fighting to take the crown away from Lewis Hamilton,” Williams said.

“There’s a racetrack there, but the town is not big. They still managed to cram heaps of people in there and every street was lined with orange flags.

“The burger shops were selling the Max Burger; there was a grocery store that had a 33 per cent off Max deal, because his race number is 33.”

While Williams’ second season in the hot seat brought plenty of challenges, particularly in the back half of the season, he said his increased familiarity with the car helped him, as did increased mental and physical training to keep his mind sharp and help his body withstand the G-force it’s subjected to during races.

“Having the experience is a big help going into the series, having learned as much as you can about the car in the previous year and continuing to learn as much as you can,” he said.

“This year in F3, the competition was incredibly strong but it was great to be in such a tough competition and to have some really good results.

“I think since last year, I’ve started to understand a lot more about and started to understand a lot more about how to optimize yourself.”

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