Callum Ilott enjoyed his first taste of FIA Formula 2 Championship machinery at Silverstone, with the Briton seeing the chequered flag in both races despite heading into the weekend knowing he was faced with a steep learning curve.
The eighteen-year-old joined Trident for a one-off appearance, and despite a damaged rear wing during qualifying, qualified fifteenth, more than four-tenths faster than his more experienced team-mate Nabil Jeffri, and only half a second shy of the top ten.
“It did feel good to be so close to the top 10 despite a problem with the wing that caused the element to drop under load, upsetting the balance,” said Ilott.
“A loss of downforce at Silverstone is not helpful for lap times but does make the high speed sections even more fun to drive.”
Ilott’s Feature race unfortunately did not go to plan early on, with an issue on the grid following an aborted start meaning he began the race from the pit lane, and coupled with a slow pit stop, he trailed around at the back of the field.
However, to Ilott’s credit, he used the track time to do some learning with the Formula 2 Dallara, particularly with racing lines and with braking, which he hoped would benefit him later on.
“The hand clutch was totally new to me and after the start was aborted I then also had an issue on the grid and had to start from the pit lane,” adds Ilott. “On any normal weekend I would have been really frustrated starting so far back but we came into this one with our eyes open, knowing I was here to learn as we went along.
“Not being in contention and with the team having had an issue during my pit stop that also cost a chunk of time, there was no need to disrupt the championship contenders so I focussed on learning as much as I could about the car.
“That meant I could try alternative braking and lines and also see what was working for the front runners.”
Ilott began the Sprint race from the back of the field, but he made early ground, and ultimately finished on the road in fifteenth, ahead of Sergio Sette Câmara, which became fourteenth when Oliver Rowland’s time penalty was applied.
“Starting right at the back, the lights changed just as I got to my slot,” said Ilott. “Certainly another reason to make sure I start further up the grid next time.
“I made up a number of places on the opening lap but perhaps was a touch over cautious in a couple of places as some of the more experienced drivers around me seemed to be going more slowly than I expected given the conditions.”
Ilott will now turn his attention back to the FIA European Formula 3 Championship with Prema Powerteam, where he currently sits fourth in the standings, but he admits he wants to be in Formula 2 in the very near future.
“I’ve really enjoyed the experience and the opportunity to get a brief taste of a category I want to be in the near future,” added Ilott. “I’d like to thank Fayre Oaks, JBR Capital, Bank of Montreal, Crystal Wealth and Nick Leventis for each helping this weekend as well as Prema for allowing me to do it.
“F2 cars are pretty special and it’s been amazing to drive at the Grand Prix but the focus is back on F3 now and battling for the championship.”