Callum Ilott says he is in a ‘very, very good position’ to move into a Formula 1 seat in 2022, even if he is not racing in any single seater category this year.
The British racer is a test driver for Scuderia Ferrari and a reserve driver for Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN in 2021 and took to the track for his first free practice outing for the later earlier this year in Portugal. He is also a member of the fabled Ferrari Driver Academy.
He finished second in the FIA Formula 2 championship in 2020 but was forced to watch as his rivals Mick Schumacher, Yuki Tsunoda and Nikita Mazepin made the jump into Formula 1 while he was forced to take on the testing duties as well as a race campaign in the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup.
“Yuki made a great impression in Bahrain – it was really good to watch, actually,” said Ilott to Motorsport.com. “So from that side, it was a good benchmark to say, ‘look, here’s what one guy can do’. With Mick, we all know that he takes a bit of time to get there. But once he’s there, he will be good. And you can already see the pace is getting better.
“I think they’re doing a good job, and I think it’s only a matter of time before the reference is even closer. And it’s easier for me to say, ‘well, I was in the middle of these two guys!’
“I still think I’m in a very, very good position. Yes, I have to wait a year. I’ve seen people wait two. The focus is still on doing the best job as possible on the GT side, and the FP1 side, and then hopefully an opportunity may present itself.”
Ilott revealed discussions did take place between Ferrari and some Formula 2 teams about racing in the category for a third consecutive season, but in the end, it was decided not to return and instead focus on GT racing and his reserve driver duties in Formula 1.
“I had discussions, within Ferrari, within the F2 teams,” he said. “But the call was on the late side of what the situation was for F1. And so by that time, you had a lot of the F2 teams already decided, and it’s not so easy to then change teams again and be in another unfamiliar environment.
“I finished second in the championship with five poles and three wins. I was as close as you were going to get to winning it – not that you don’t want to take that risk. I love to race F2, it was a great format, it’s just there was only one place better I could go. And I think with the three races [in the new format], a lot has changed.
“Also, as much as regular driving is important, which it is, if you need to need jump in, I think there’s another level of information that you need to learn from F1 which I wasn’t going to maximise if I was doing a full race season in F2.”