We continue the Modex Brand Ambassadors interview series Ollie Gray, a member of the Williams Racing Driver Academy and a Carlin driver for 2022 in the British F4 Championship. We spoke to Ollie about his racing career and achievements, as well as the impact of cutting-edge technology in a competitive sport like car racing.
The British Formula 4 Championship is the first step for aspiring young drivers making the transition from karting into single-seaters. Certified by the FIA, the series enters an exciting new phase in 2022 with a second-generation Tatuus chassis, featuring the all-important halo safety feature, and Abarth engines.
The young racer from Surrey enjoyed a stellar debut season in British F4, with two wins and two pole positions to his name, later competing in the final two rounds of the Italian F4 Championship. Ollie had seen plenty of success early in his junior career as well, claiming multiple Motorsport UK and British Kart Championship titles at the X30 Junior level, before finishing as vice-champion in the 2019 IAME Euro Series.
Founded in 1996, Carlin is headed by Team Principal Trevor Carlin. Over the past 25 years, Carlin have established themselves as one of the most successful racing teams in the world. After entering British F3 in the late 1990s, the team have gone on to record nearly 450 victories in a myriad of motor racing categories. Some of today’s most successful drivers have driven for Carlin, including almost half the current Formula 1 grid: Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo, Lando Norris, Carlos Sainz, George Russell, Antonio Giovinazzi and Yuki Tsunoda have all raced for Carlin at some stage of their career.
Go-karts, the start of a love story
“As soon as I stepped into a go-kart, I knew that I wanted to be a racing driver”, Ollie recalls. “My passion for racing has only grown since then. My motivation levels are the highest they have ever been and I’m ready for anything that might be thrown at me this year. For me, ‘performance’ is not just about winning or being the fastest; it’s about having a well-rounded performance and maximizing all opportunities. When I feel like I have left nothing on the table, that’s when I know my performance has been the best it can be.”
Ollie also highlights the important role of his team. “A key-factor in performing at a high level is to integrate with the people around you as much as possible. Coming together with engineers, mechanics, driver coaches is one of the biggest factors in performing at the highest level. The team I have around me in 2022 is phenomenal and I believe that we’ll have a successful year ahead.”
Racing career ups and downs
So far, Ollie has had quite a few achievements as a racing driver. “Signing with Williams F1 Academy was the highlight of my career. As a British driver, signing with a historic British F1 team is the most amazing feeling, and I’m honoured to have been given the opportunity. There is no other feeling like being told you are going to join a team like Williams; this has motivated me more than ever to excel in and out of the car this year!”
It’s worth noting some of Ollie’s other achievements: British karting champion in 2019, Vice European champion in 2019, multiple British and European races won throughout 2019-2020, double pole and double win at Thruxton in his British F4 debut season.
What about challenges? “The biggest challenge I’ve ever had to overcome was after losing the World Championship in 2019. I was leading by three tenths with less than a lap to go when – for reasons beyond my control – the engine seized. It was difficult to bounce back, but I came back to win the British Championship by the end of that year.”
Learning more from mistakes than from victories
We also asked Ollie about his approach to professional development. “I always try to learn more from my mistakes than I do from my achievements. This is how I refine myself, on and off the track. I also look to learn from others who have been in my position and I ask them about their own mistakes or achievements.”
Speaking about the values that he keeps close to his heart, Ollie states: “Being a team player is a big value to have. Showing respect for fellow competitors and other people within the sport is another huge value and I believe that if you have these things, you can achieve so much more. I fully enjoy the wins, but I also accept and learn from the losses.”
Cutting-edge technologies and car racing
Since the tech industry and car racing are intertwined, we were curious to find out what Ollie thinks about concepts like “performance in tech” and “tech for good”. “Performance in tech – the sport is evolving all the time. New technologies are always being introduced and this can only be seen as a positive change in terms of performance. It is also a new criterion for an athlete to learn and understand to perform at their highest level.”
“Tech for good – the greater use and the good that technology will bring to the world will be pivotal. In the current global environment, there will be only one way forward: tech will continue to grow in our lives, increasing the quality of living.”
As for how he sees technology improving performance in motor racing, Ollie says: “Motorsport is already a highly technical sport. As I progress through the ranks of F3, F2, F1, technology will only become more influential and the sooner that I learn and understand it, the more it will benefit my performance in the future.”
Referring to Modex and what he appreciates the most about our company, Ollie states: “Modex is proving that by harnessing innovation with talented people who work towards common goals, success becomes more achievable. In a short time, Modex has grown hugely and with its suite of blockchain services and innovative products I am very proud and excited to have Modex as a partner!”
Playing golf and supporting children’s charities
Ollie is committed to making charitable contributions in his community, especially for children in need. “Through my school I have been involved in supporting a number of local charities that provide opportunities for children who otherwise wouldn’t be given them. Moreover, through motorsport I want to raise awareness of cancer in younger people.”
How about his hobbies? “My favourite sport other than racing is golf. It’s a great way to unwind with friends and you can really disconnect from the racing world as it can be very full-on. Sometimes, all a driver needs is a break to come back and perform at his highest level. Just like in motorsport, I enjoy beating my friends at golf, although I don’t do that too often. I was a half decent golfer when I was much younger.”