The 2018 GP3 Series reached its culmination at the weekend at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi.
Callum Ilott claimed two top four finishes, and twenty points to ensure he secured third in the overall standings.
Over the course of the year, he claimed two wins as part of seven consecutive podium-finishing weekends in his rookie season with the 2018 Teams’ Champions ART Grand Prix.
“I’m happy with what I’ve learnt from racing in the F1 support series,” said Ilott. “From new tracks to understanding about tyre management and DRS, I’ve built my experience, race strategy and demonstrated both consistency and pace. Congratulations too to my team-mate Anthoine Hubert [the Drivers’ Champion] and to ART.”
The Ferrari Driver Academy member, suffered from a brake issue in Free Practice and had to work around it in the final qualifying session of the year to line up in fifth.
“We improved the braking but I still had to adapt in quali.
“With around two tenths separating the top five, it was always going to be a tight quali and so I was pretty happy after the issues earlier in the day.”
A slow getaway at the lights for Saturday’s Feature Race meant Ilott was on the back foot, however an move around the outside of Turn One saw him move into fourth and on the rear of, then, championship leader Hubert.
Maintaining the gap to third, Ilott managed his tyres but came under threat from a charging David Beckmann who used DRS to pass the Briton.
Ilott fought back and the places were reversed, with Beckmann retaliating on lap ten with the move compromising Ilott allowing his team-mate Jake Hughes to also get past.
Hughes began to struggle, and on lap fifteenth Ilott was fighting his team-mate and countryman and one lap later was ahead and pulled clear.
“By the end I was having to nurse the tyres but I had saved enough to make sure I got as close as I could to Anthoine to bank as many points as possible,” said Ilott.
The reverse grid on Sunday for the Sprint Race, the final ever GP3 race, saw Ilott line up in fifth.
Getting away cleanly the Briton defended from Beckmann at the first corner.
“It was a good start and I made sure I kept ahead of Beckmann in fifth through Turn One.
“There was then carnage behind and that gave me some breathing room.”
Beckmann and Leonardo Pulcini had been involved in an incident with Hubert which put the newly crowned champion out of the race.
After a length Virtual Safety Car, Ilott was fifth and closing on the leading quartet.
“At this stage of the race I was managing the tyres and saving my DRS.
“I’d lost a little time at the VSC restart but at this stage, the strategy was working.”
By lap ten, Ilott was in fourth place having passed Giuliano Alesi, with his challenge continuing. Now on the rear of Hughes but Simo Laaksonen was attacking him and got pass via DRS, only for Ilott to retake the place back on the run to Turn Eight.
However, on the final lap Laaksonen once again used DRS to snatch a podium finish off Ilott.
“With three laps to go, the tyres started to drop off. I was having to defend again from Laaksonen who had the benefit of being able to use DRS on the last lap.”
“With penalties for second-placed Juan Manuel Correa, I was P4, securing the points needed to finish third in the championship.”
Longtime race leader, Correa had been penalised after a VSC infringement that dropped him from second to fifth.
Ilott remains in Abu Dhabi and will take part in a FIA Formula 2 test with Charouz Racing Team.