Callum Ilott: “It was all about playing the consistency game”


Callum Ilott (53) just avoids being collected by Nikita Mazepin in Saturday's wet opening race at the Nurburgring - Credit: FIA Formula 3 European Championship

Callum Ilott made up a lot of ground on third placed Joel Eriksson at the Nurburgring, with three races finishing inside the top four, although he did not have the pace to challenge either Lando Norris or Jake Hughes up front.

The Prema Powerteam driver started the weekend with a fourth place finish in the wet of race one, before following that up with a visit to the podium on Sunday morning, before concluding the weekend with another fourth place result.

Qualifying for the whole Prema team appeared to be difficult, with Ilott only getting his laps together in the closing moments, the only driver really to do so in the whole team.

“Many of us were left scratching our heads after qualifying with the times and positions of a number of drivers not where you would normally expect them to be,” said Ilott.

“I was lucky that my last two laps came together as it was looking really bad for me up until then.”

Ilott was lucky to avoid being taken out by Nikita Mazepin’s out of control Hitech Grand Prix car during Saturday’s wet race after the Russian was tapped into a spin by debutant Sacha Fenestraz, but Sunday’s first race on a dry track was difficult for the Briton due to high tyre wear early on, which meant he was forced to hang on until the chequered flag.

“At the beginning of race 1 we messed up a bit with the set-up but then in the closing stages we were really quick relative to the people I was fighting with,” said Ilott.

“Overall the top speed wasn’t as good as it could have been and I had to fight quite hard with Joey [Mawson] to try to pass him, but I ended up P5 on-track and P4 [when Tadasuke Makino was handed a time penalty] afterwards so not too bad.”

Ilott started the final race of the weekend from pole position but found himself shuffled down to fourth early on when Norris, Hughes and Ralf Aron found a way through, but the Briton regrouped and held off the challenge of Jehan Daruvala until the chequered flag for a fourth place finish.

“Having such severe tyre wear, so early on in the race, meant that was one of the hardest races this season,” admitted Ilott.   “We just lacked the pace to fight for the win this time yet we did manage to grab 15 points at a time when we really needed them. That was really important when we didn’t have the speed.

“This weekend in either the wet or dry, we just couldn’t compete on pace and it was all about playing the consistency game and getting as many points as possible.

“Despite some frustration from the races, I’m now just five points from third and I have taken 33 points off the gap to second and we still have six races to go. I’m still fighting!”