As I look towards 2018 and beyond, I am delighted to have been selected by Ferrari to be part of its Driver Academy. I have always loved the Ferrari brand ever since I was a kid, so to become a part of it's Academy is the ultimate.
Not only that but to get to work with ART Grand Prix for 2018 and race in the last season of the GP3 Series is going to be good. Great guys, cool team. The decision to go with GP3 and ART this year was made together with the Ferrari Driver Academy (FDA) and I am massively excited about the year ahead.
From here developing my potential fully as a young driver is the key to a successful path in motorsport for me. I am lucky enough for this year now to have the help of both ART and the FDA. ART Grand Prix are a racing powerhouse, a collective of some of the smartest racing minds in the industry and I am humbled to once again be able to learn from the best. Sébastien Philippe, who is Team Manager at ART has a strong driving background himself, runs a team of real professionals, and will no doubt be a great mentor for me. Equally, the focus, knowledge and enthusiasm from Massimo, head of the FDA and his team is second to none. Ferrari’s Driver Academy programme is a game changer in the industry on driver development, and it is truly a privilege to become a part of it. I’m really looking forward to working hard with both to become the best driver I can.
So 2018 for me now starts with a move to Maranello, and then time over in Paris with ART too - and lots of hard graft to prepare for the season ahead.
My objective for 2017 has been to fight for the FIA F3 European Championship title with greater consistency and to continue to learn and develop my skills, and to do this I am delighted I have been racing with PREMA for this year - combining my driving with PREMA’s expertise.
My selection of PREMA as my racing partner for this year was based on its tremendous track record, heritage and ability to develop a driver in a complete sense. PREMA’s singular focus of developing and enhancing its drivers’ talents to help them reach the highest echelons of the sport is what sets it apart from the competition. I am pleased to have now raced for British, Dutch and Italian race teams gaining different experiences from each of them.
This year my teammates are Mick Schumacher, Ferrari Academy Driver Guan Yu Zhou, and DTM Reserve Driver for Mercedes AGM, Maxi Gunther.
Coming into the 2017 FIA F3 Championship, the teams faced fresh tighter regulations on aero development, and also an update to the VW engine was allowed by the FIA on reliability grounds after only three (out of thirty) VW race victories in 2016. Both changes had the potential to bring teams on to a more level playing field for the 2017 championship and avoid a repeat of the recent Mercedes dominance. It has certainly been great to see the VW-driven teams bounce back from a difficult 2016, with the new engine package proving very competitive. In spite of this challenge, we have put in some good performances and although personally I am disappointed not to win the Driver Championship, I am delighted that I have been one of Prema's two nominated drivers enabling Prema to win the Team Champion title for the record-breaking 7th year in a row.
Although we have had more up and down moments than I would have liked, I have progressed again this year with 6 wins and 11 podiums. I have had 10 pole positions this year, more than any other driver, and have out qualified my leading teammate Maxi Gunther by 20 to 7 in head to head qualifications this season.
I wrapped my last year in F3 up with a win of Saturday's Qualification Race for the FIA F3 World Cup at my favourite circuit in Macau In November. Quite a year.
2015 racing was all about learning, pushing for the best results and doing the best job I could to learn quickly to deliver a strong level of performance - rookie or not. In moving on in 2016, I looked to challenge for race wins and the consistency of results required to win a European F3 Championship title.
We showed good speed at times in qualification and races, enough to deliver a higher championship finishing position, but ultimately did not show the consistency required as a team to deliver the championship win.
It was a challenging but positive year and one where I have developed my skills on and off track enormously. I have had my first race car wins and have been the youngest driver to achieve multiple wins and multiple pole positions. Racing with teammates Antoine Hubert, Harrison Newey and Pedro Piquet, I was the lead driver within the team in the overall standings, finishing with more points than all of my teammates combined. Nevertheless being disappointed with my final position in the standings shows you how far I've come in two seasons of car racing.
I used this year as a fast-track learning experience to develop my skills to be the best I can be. You have to work hard and keep on learning to become the best. It doesn't always come easily.
My debut in single seater racing was at 16 and was masterminded by Dr Helmut Marko on behalf of the Red Bull Junior Team. I was Red Bull's first ever driver to be taken from karts direct to F3 to race in Red Bull livery in the FIA F3 European championship. Formula 3 is known as the proving ground for the world's most talented young drivers, producing countless young F3 drivers who have gone on to race at the highest levels.
Despite having never raced in cars pre 2015, I finished 12th overall, ahead of many drivers with more car experience. Of the 35 drivers on the grid, I was the only driver to be classified a finisher in all 33 races. I completed the season with a maiden podium at my favourite circuit, the Nürburgring along with several rookie trophies. I finished 3rd of the 6 drivers within the Carlin Motorsport team, behind recently promoted F1 driver Antonio Giovinazzi and Mercedes Development Driver George Russell, and ahead of teammate and subsequent LMP2/WEC winner Gustavo Menezes, Sauber Development Driver Tatiana Calderon and Ryan Tveter.
Prior to my first season in cars, as a 15 year old I won the four round senior CIK-FIA European Karting Championship, the WSK Super Master Series, came 3rd in the WSK Champions Cup, and finished 4th (from 32nd) in the single weekend CIK-FIA World Championship.
At 13, Callum dominated the international under 15s KFJ category with wins in the WSK Masters Series and the WSK Final Cup, runner up in the WSK Euro Series and CIK-FIA World Cup, and was voted the youngest ever WSK Driver of the Year in 2012.
Callum had his first drive in a kart just before his 7th birthday and took his competitive race licence as soon as he was 8. By 12 years he had begun to impress the international karting scene by winning the under 16s Formula Kart Stars British Championship, and finishing 3rd in the German National Championship (KFJ category).
Single Seater Highlights:
2016 5th FIA F3 World Cup Macau
2016 6th FIA F3 European Championship
2015 16th Toyota Race Series
2015 12th FIA F3 European Championship
2014 1st CIK-FIA European Championship KF
2014 1st WSK Super Master Series KF
2014 3rd WSK Champions Cup KF
2014 4th CIK-FIA World Championship KF (from 32nd)
2013 1st WSK Final Cup KF
2012 2nd CIK-FIA World Cup KF3
2012 1st WSK Final Cup KF3
2012 2nd WSK Euro Series KF3
2012 1st WSK Master Series KF3
2012 WSK Driver of the Year
2011 1st British Formula Kart Stars National Championship KF3
2011 3rd DKM German Junior Kart National Championship KF3
© 2016 Callum Ilott | Site by: Elate Global | Photographic Credits to GEPA Red Bull, Thomas Suer, FotoFormulaK, WafeProject and KSP