Interview with Kornelia Olkucka, new race driver in F4 CEZ with Maffi Racing

Interview with Kornelia Olkucka, new race driver in F4 CEZ with Maffi Racing

From the world of karting to the F4 CEZ Championship, Kornelia Olkucka has joined Maffi Racing for the 2024 season. In the interview, young lady from Poland shares the milestones of her career, the challenges of moving to Formula 4, and her aspirations for the upcoming season.

Can you tell us about your journey from the Polish karting scene to joining Maffi Racing for the F4 CEZ Championship?
My journey with karting started when I was 14 years old. For a year, I was driving in the Junior Max category, two seasons in the Senior Max category, and my last 3 seasons in the most challenging and difficult category in the Rotax Max Challenge series – the DD2 Max, ranking high in national and international competitions. Thanks to my success, I also represented Poland in the Motorsport Olympic Games, the Motorsport Games in 2022, where I was driving in the karting endurance category. In 2023, specifically in April, Maffi Racing contacted me, saying that they had been watching me and would like to invite me to test a Formula 4 car. In August of the same year, I went to Italy for scheduled tests. The first stage consisted of mental and physical tests in one of the best clinics specializing in testing drivers – Formula Medicine. After a week of testing, I went to the Tazio Nuvolari track for the second stage, which involved driving a single-seater. After the tests, Maffi Racing contacted me, gave me the green light, and said that they would love to have me on their team as a driver, and we decided to compete in the F4 CEZ Championship.

What were some of the key factors that contributed to your successful transition from karting to Formula 4?
I think the aspects that decided my successful transition from karting to Formula 4 were my experience and the kilometers covered on the track, which bore fruit in the form of lap repeatability, car control in any condition, and understanding how my car reacts depending on settings, and of course, communication skills with my mechanic, team, and trainer. Another important element was also my mental and physical preparation.

What aspects of your physical and mental training do you believe are most critical for your performance in F4?
Physical and mental training play a key role in driver preparation to start in Formula 4. To achieve good results, first, you need to have good physical endurance, strong neck, shoulder, and leg muscles, that’s why cardio training and exercises to strengthen the above-mentioned muscles are my daily routine. Reaction time and eye-hand coordination improvement exercises are also very important. Stress management work is also important; in this sphere, relaxation and breathing techniques help me. I also cannot omit mental training, thanks to which I improve my concentration and develop the ability to quickly adapt to changing conditions. I also learn visualization techniques, which are very helpful in remembering the route, turns, and key points of the track.

Reflecting on your karting career, what are some of the most valuable lessons you’ve learned that you’ll bring to Formula 4 racing?
Karting provides solid preparation to race in advanced age-hand category, which is Formula 4. Above all, it develops precision, dexterity, and vehicle control, as well as reflexes and reaction speed. Karting thought me race strategy – tactics for overtaking and maintaining position, as well as understanding the impact of different settings and tire pressure on vehicle behavior and reading telemetry. I can’t skip mental toughness. Pressure, unpredictability of events, inappropriate behavior of my rivals, gender stereotypes shaped my character and made me a warrior who never gives up, who, when she falls, gets up and keeps fighting.

Looking ahead to the 2024 season, what are your main goals and expectations for your first year in F4 with Maffi Racing?
My championship goal is to get on the podium. I also want to quickly adapt to the new environment, improve my driving skills, and consistently score points. I expect that I will gain invaluable experience that will broaden my horizons and contribute not only to my development as an athlete but also as a future sports psychologist.

Finally, what does being a Formula driver mean to you, and how do you see your future in motorsport?
Formula 4 for me is a milestone in my motorsport career, which will allow me to develop my skills as a racing driver and broaden my horizons. Starting in a single-seater will allow me to immerse myself in a professional racing environment, give me the opportunity to observe the work of outstanding engineers and team managers, and build relationships with them, which may be valuable for me in further career development. As the first girl in the series, I will have the opportunity to be present on the international arena and develop my personal brand. I deeply believe that participation in F4 races will be a springboard for me to higher series.