Callum Ilott felt there was more time to be found despite finishing second fastest in opening qualifying for the Qualifying Race for the 63rd Macau Grand Prix on Thursday.
The British racer was 0.226 seconds down on Antonio Felix da Costa during the heavily disrupted session, which saw no fewer than four red flags due to crashes, but the Van Amersfoort Racing driver felt good on Thursday, and finished second despite encountering traffic on his fastest runs.
“It was a really good start to track running considering we didn’t really get going,” admitted Ilott. “There was a lot of stoppages with some of the crashes and the last session finished early.
“I only got a few clear laps out of the twelve I completed in the whole session. With it being a street circuit, it’s still ‘green’ and pretty dirty in places but you could feel it improving as more rubber went down.
“I am really happy because I got caught in traffic so my first two sector times weren’t anywhere as good as they could have been. Unless we see a change in the weather I expect the track will be even quicker tomorrow and the VAR guys have worked hard to get us a good baseline.
“There are a few support races including Touring Cars and GTs so we think the track will improve significantly as they put more rubber on the track.”
Ilott admitted that with the tight nature of the circuit, it is extremely easy to end the session against the unforgiving walls, and the Briton only needs to look back at his first attack in Macau in 2015 to know how unforgiving they are.
“It’s really easy to knock a corner off or even two here and that’s your session finished,” said Ilott. “Teams and drivers do a lot of prep and we’ll do sim work but the first practice sessions are where you get to feel the bumps and see or feel how close the barriers are.”
Ilott admitted it would be great to get a Macau Grand Prix victory on his CV, although he feels the level of talent on show this weekend is extremely high.
“It’s very possible but this is also the most unpredictable race on our calendar,” said Ilott. “You’ve got the best F3 drivers from Europe over here together with Asia and then, on top of that, you’ve got some really experienced Macau drivers such as António Félix da Costa and Alexander Sims coming to get another good result.
“To win would undoubtedly be my biggest car victory and would be right up there with my karting titles. A Macau win commands huge respect in the motorsport world so like most of the grid I definitely would like to have it on my CV and we’ve got a good opportunity to do it this season.”