GLOUCESTERSHIRE'S Zak O’Sullivan took home a point from a testing weekend in Australia on the second leg of the Formula 2 season at the weekend.

The 19-year-old, from Withington, near Cheltenham, improved on a tough weekend in Saudi Arabia by finishing eighth in an up-and-down sprint race in Melbourne.

However, the Williams Academy driver was forced to retire in the feature race after contact with another competitor, and he now has a month’s break to work on improving the performance of his ART Grand Prix machine before the championship arrives in Italy in May. 

O'Sullivan kept his nose clean during an incident-strewn qualifying session on Friday, setting the 11th-best time in a disrupted session which included a crash for his team-mate Victor Martins.

The pattern was repeated around the tricky street circuit in Saturday’s sprint race, when he moved up three places after a huge crash between Gabriel Bortoleto and Pepe Marti at the start.

Despite being forced wide by Kush Maini at turn three, O'Sullivan held 8th behind the safety car.

However, the ART again struggled for race pace when the action resumed, with O'Sullivan passed by Dennis Hauger and fellow Williams junior Franco Colapinto.

He climbed to 6th after a huge chain reaction of spins in front of him, with Kimi Antonelli, Richard Verschoor and Paul Aron all exiting stage left.

But again, race pace eluded Zak and he was passed by Ritomo Miyata, Martins and Ollie Bearman to finish 9th on the road, which became 8th after race winner Isack Hadjar was disqualified.

Sunday’s feature race was equally challenging, with Zak making a great start but tapping Roman Stanek into a spin and taking a 10-second penalty for causing a collision.

He dropped to 17th and as he tried to make his way forward again on lap seven, Joshua Duerksen cut across his nose in the final sector, damaging his car and forcing him to retire in the pits.

"It’s fair to say it’s been a tough weekend, but I am pleased to have at least secured a point from Saturday’s race," said Zak.

"It’s clear we are lacking qualifying and race pace compared with our rivals, but ART Grand Prix is one of the most successful teams around at this level, so I have every confidence they will find a solution.

"I’m looking forward to the European season starting next month, and the break comes at a good time as it gives us the best possible opportunity to assess the opening three rounds and see where we can improve."

The Italian rounds of the Formula 2 season take place at the legendary Imola circuit over the weekend of May 17 to 19.