Callum Ilott: “I was happy to be back on the podium”

Callum Ilott - Credit: FIA Formula 3 European Championship

Despite continuing to be the dominant driver within the Van Amersfoort Racing outfit in 2016, Callum Ilott had a tough weekend at Imola, with only one points finish across the three races at the Italian circuit, although that was a podium in race three.

Ilott admitted he was not at his best at Imola, and after being involved in a fight for minor points during Saturday’s opener, found himself forced off the track and relegated to fifteenth at the chequered flag, while his first race on Sunday morning was over before it really began when a broken trackrod forced the Briton out after just one lap.

“It’s been one of the hardest weekends of the season,” said Ilott. “We struggled with the car and in truth, I wasn’t at my best either.

“In Race One I really wasn’t comfortable with the handling of the car as it had too much understeer, and combined with old rubber, and getting squeezed off a couple of times, the result was a finish outside of the points.

“Starting from the second row in Race Two, I thought we’d get a solid haul of points but the car felt worse than Race One and eventually after a component failure I ended up retiring after just one lap.”

After his earlier disappointments, Ilott came back fighting in the final race of the weekend, and with a fixed car the Briton was able to return to the podium for the first time since the Zandvoort weekend in July, and enjoyed a good, close battle with Hitech GP’s George Russell.

“The team worked hard to get the car sorted and Race Three was much more like it, achieving the form we know is possible,” said Ilott. “I pushed as hard as I could and together with George we had a clean race and I was happy to be back on the podium.”

Ilott now heads to the Hockenheimring looking to end the season on a high, with the Briton still hopeful of finishing as high as third in the standings, with just twenty-four points separating him from fellow Briton Russell who holds that position after the Imola weekend.

Such is the domination of Ilott within Van Amersfoort Racing, his points tally of 226 is more than the combined total of his three team-mates Anthoine Hubert, Pedro Piquet and Harrison Newey, while ironically his total also matches the combined total of Red Bull juniors Niko Kari and Sergio Sette Câmara.

“We are still fifth but now just one point behind fourth,” concluded Ilott. “Third in the championship is still possible and we’ll try as hard as we can to get that.

“I’ve planned time with the engineers and team principal to make sure we are as prepared as we can. Hockenheim can be fun, especially if it’s a wet weekend.”