Ilott insists F1 remains main aim despite GT success

Callum Ilott (GBR) Alfa Romeo Racing Reserve Driver. 30.04.2021. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 3, Portuguese Grand Prix, Portimao, Portugal
© XPB 

Callum Ilott insists that his focus remains on breaking into Formula 1 and that he's not been distracted by moving into GT Racing and making his Le Mans debut this weekend.

The 22-year-old Ferrari Driver Academy prospect was runner-up in the 2020 Formula 2 championship behind fellow FDA member Mick Schumacher. But while the German driver was promoted straight into F1 with Haas, there proved to be no room on this year's grid for Ilott.

Instead, the British driver has been named as test driver for both Ferrari and Alfa Romeo - and also official race reserve driver for the latter - while keeping race-sharp with Iron Lynx in GT racing which so far this season has yielded back-to-back fourth place finishes at Monza and Paul Ricard.

“It’s experience for either way I go,” he told ahead of his first Le Mans outing in the GTE-Am class alongside co-drivers Matteo Cressoni and Rino Mastronardi.

“Obviously right now I’m racing GTs, but my development and focus is still with F1," he insisted. "There is still a chance and I’m still in that environment.

"Depending on the future years, and obviously with the Hypercar program, it makes more sense to have experience in GTs and to be able to jump into the Hypercar if necessary, than not to have it."

In fact, Ilott is aiming to keep his options open as wide as possible for his future in motorsport.

“This year it’s been very educational and very good to do something different," he declared. "I’m in a bit of a fun situation where there’s a few opportunities and a few different routes to do.

“I could also go to America and do Indy if I wanted," he said, adding: "I would also not say no to F1 as well.

“I can’t complain really in the position I am," he acknowledged. "I’m actually enjoying it quite a lot, a lot more than I expected at the beginning of the year.

“I’ve had the whole junior single-seaters environment, which is quite stressful. Every weekend you’re fighting for your career, for your life. [In GT] it’s like restarting and relearning and doing something different.

"With the performance and the speed I have, I have a good baseline. But there’s lots of little things you need to learn with the LMP2s, with the [race] management and everything. It’s a different style of racing.

"It’s something I have to adapt to. Not that I haven’t experienced, but in a different way," he noted. "So it’s much better for me to have this experience, almost in my mind a lower-pressure year.

“At the beginning of the year, from single-seaters you always have this thing of ‘maybe I can do GT racing later in the future’, but it’s good.

"If I was to stick to the GT route - the endurance route - I have this year, I have next year, probably if I was to do that with more opportunities.

“Then if it comes to it, we have the Hypercar the year after, so I have that choice to do.”

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