British rising star Callum Ilott enjoyed a successful start to his FIA F3 championship challenge, seizing a race victory, second place and a pair of pole positions at Silverstone this weekend. At only his second-ever car race meeting in the UK, the 18-year-old dominated the final race of Easter weekend, finishing 6.81 seconds ahead of rival Joel Eriksson to now lie in second place in the championship standings.
Ilott, making his race debut for the Italian Prema Powerteam this weekend, made his intentions clear from the start of the weekend, snatching pole positions for the second and third races and just missed claiming clean sweep by six thousandths of a second in qualifying for the opening race.
The opening race marked the only frustration in Ilott’s otherwise impressive weekend. With slippery and unpredictable grip levels mandating a start behind the safety car, Ilott fell victim to the fickle track conditions, sliding off and missing out on a potential points haul. Refreshed and refocussed, Ilott returned to the Silverstone circuit on Saturday for race two, very much intent on turning his weekend around.
Starting from pole, Ilott surged into the lead but Eriksson managed to get past at Brooklands and take the win. Ilott was nonetheless able to control the gap to the rest of the field and notch up his first podium for his new team, finishing second behind the Swede.
An early start for Sunday’s race saw the BRDC SuperStar now dominate proceedings from the off. He left fellow front-row sitter Lando Norris standing as the lights went out and was ahead of main rival Eriksson, who pushed hard to seize the lead from the outset. After overtaking Ilott, Eriksson eked out a lead of over 0.6 seconds but with a measured fightback, Ilott clawed back the gap and with 25 mins left on the clock, made a bold move around the outside at Stowe to reclaim the top spot. From then on in Ilott increased his advantage, laying down the fastest lap and sector times to finish over six seconds ahead in the process, securing Prema 81st race victory in the category as it aims for a record-breaking seventh title in F3.
“It’s brilliant to get a win for Prema in my opening weekend with the team, especially achieving that at Silverstone where I had lot of support from friends and family who can’t always come and see me race,” says Ilott. “We had to work hard to turn around the disappointment of not finishing the first race but the team is fantastic and we got our heads down and came back stronger. Together with the excellent qualifying pace at a track that hasn’t favoured Prema in the past, it gives us a real boost and sets things up for a really good year. I’m already looking forward to the next round.”
The championship now heads to Monza in Italy at the end of April with Ilott second in the standings on 43 points and his team also second in the Teams’ championship.