Ilott’s championship bid runs out of fuel
Ilott experiences his first points-less weekend in Germany for FIA European Formula 3 Championship finale
Young British driver Callum Ilott suffered his first non-points scoring event of the 2016 FIA European Formula 3 season in Hockenheim, Germany. Ilott entered the weekend looking to put pressure on his closest championship rivals and secured seventh, fifth and third-place grid starts for the final three races of the season. With one of his closest championship contenders George Russell receiving a ten-place grid penalty for all three races after qualifying, the scene was set for a close championship finish against Russell and fourth-placed Nick Cassidy.
In the first race of the weekend, Ilott’s battle ended after only three laps after contact on the opening lap. Mikkel Jensen made an ambitious overtaking manoeuvre at the hairpin but locked up and collided with Ilott’s sidepod, damaging his radiator. Jensen received a penalty, but it was little consolation for Ilott who was forced to retire from the race to protect his engine from damage.
Race Two was a far better result with Ilott making a strong start from fifth position on the grid, and he was soon able to translate this to fourth as the lights went green. A tense battle with points rival Joel Eriksson for third throughout the opening lap allowed the 17-year-old to show off his skills near the front of the field and entertain the spectators. Ilott drove hard throughout the race, staying on Eriksson’s tail to finish on the podium in third place.
However, his strong performance went unrewarded following a post-race exclusion. The rules stipulate that at least one litre of fuel must be left in the car at the end of the race, and his car failed to yield sufficient fuel to satisfy officials in post-race scrutineering. The loss of points relegated Ilott to sixth in the championship.
The final round of the season on Sunday morning was delayed due to fog, but when it finally got underway, Ilott started from third on the grid. He knew he needed to win the final race to make any gain in the championship and pushed hard at the start of the opening lap. In a close battle with Jake Hughes, Ilott found himself quickly dropping backwards down the field after being run wide across the run off area at turn 2. Subsequent issues with the balance of the car saw Ilott eventually return to the pit lane, retiring the car early for the second time this weekend.
As the season concludes, Ilott finishes sixth in the Drivers’ Championship having secured two wins and six podium finishes. He remains philosophical despite having had higher aims for this year. “We win and lose as a team. I showed that I have the speed to win races but at the end of the day we didn’t show the consistency needed to finish higher in the championship. I would like to congratulate Lance Stroll and wish him well in F1 next year,” says Ilott. “As for me, I’ll be working hard during the off-season and will be back next year looking to use my experiences from this season to move forward once again.”
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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.