Double points after extraordinary start to Hungary weekend
Putting Friday’s incident behind him, Callum Ilott delivered a stunning top six finish in treacherous conditions
Climbing to sixth place from eleventh on the grid in Sunday’s race concluded a difficult weekend for Callum Ilott in the latest rounds of European F3 Championship at the Hungaroring. Not only having to contend with finding a car set up in tricky conditions at the newly resurfaced track, the 17 year old was physically assaulted before qualifying by fellow driver Nikita Mazepin, leaving Ilott understandably shaken.
Stewards later found Mazepin guilty of unsporting behaviour and banned the Russian from participating in the opening event. "Even some of the stewards said they had never experienced anything like this before," said Ilott afterwards. “There is pressure on all of us to do well but we shouldn’t see this kind of thing in our sport, or any other. That kind of behaviour is unacceptable and it's very important to me to remain professional on and off track."
Ilott lined up 9th on Saturday for the opening race but it didn’t go quite to plan and the Briton was forced to retire after contact at the second corner of the opening lap with a damaged front left wheel. Despite changes to improve the balance and grip of Ilott’s car after qualifying, it still wasn’t enough to enable him to challenge the front runners in race two. Nonetheless, Ilott pushed hard from his 14th grid spot, moving swiftly into the top 10 before finishing ninth and gathering valuable championship points.
With wet weather greeting competitors on Sunday morning, Ilott revelled in the greasy conditions, storming from 11th on the grid to 8th position in the opening laps. Delighting onlookers and the race commentator with his car control and complete commitment, Ilott grappled with his car, creating and seizing multiple overtaking opportunities at the F1 track that is renowned for being a place with few chances to pass. Ilott enjoyed spirited and clean battles with Pedro Piquet, son of former F1 champion Nelson, Canadian driver Lance Stroll and Brazilian driver Sergio Sette Camara during an action packed race. Adopting alternative lines to find any grip on the wet track, Ilott managed to get up to fifth though the Brazilian was able to snatch the place back after a safety car restart.
“Sunday’s race was the highlight of a tough weekend that really I want to move on from,” added Ilott. "As a team we all struggled to use the tyres to their optimum potential in qualifying. I enjoy racing in the wet and it was great being able to make some of those moves stick. I want to carry that momentum forward for the next race in three weeks’ time.”
With ten points scored, Ilott remains firmly in the championship title fight and is currently eighth in the standings as the drivers head next to the picturesque street circuit in Pau, France on May 13th-15th.
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About Callum Ilott
Based in the UK and still in full-time education at Haileybury, Hertford, 17-year-old Callum Ilott is one of Britain's upcoming young driving talents. At 12, he secured his first British national karting championship and just one year later dominated the international under 15s KFJ category with multiple championship wins and was nominated as the youngest ever WSK Driver of the Year in 2012. Aged 15, he won the CIK-FIA European Karting Championship, the WSK Super Master Series and finished fourth in the CIK-FIA World Championship. Aged 16, Callum was Red Bull’s first ever driver to progress from karts to F3 to race in the FIA F3 European Championship securing a podium at the Nürburgring. In 2016 he will return to the championship with experienced Dutch team VAR.