Pole position and a commanding victory sees Ferrari Academy Driver Callum Ilott at the top of the GP3 Series championship table after Red Bull Ring.
“It’s been a pretty good weekend for me here with lots of firsts," says Ilott. "First GP3 pole. First feature race win. First in the championship table. There’s still lots of work to do, but now I am getting comfortable with the car, there’s also lots more to come.”
Ilott’s weekend at the Austrian track, where he has scored wins in F3 in 2016 and 2017, started well with a strong performance in qualifying.
“Red Bull Ring is the first track on the calendar that we haven’t tested at but I like it and always go well here,” remarks Ilott. “ART gave me a car with great balance, so I just focused on getting into a rhythm on track and putting in consistent laps which got me the pole.”
In Race One on Saturday, Ilott mastered his getaway from pole to build a manageable gap in spite of an early safety car.
“A strong start set me up well for taking the lead into the first corner and I built a nice gap,” explains Ilott, "But that got cancelled out with the safety car for Joey Mawson.”
"I knew nailing the safety car restart was key, so that’s what I did. I timed it well and built a 1.7 second buffer fairly quickly to take myself out of reach of DRS from those behind."
“Looking back I couldn’t really have done anything better or differently. ART gave me a great car and on this track it is always good to bring it home with a solid lead. Taking the points lead in the championship was the icing on the cake.”
Sunday’s reverse grid format Sprint Race saw Ilott starting from eighth position, avoiding the first corner carnage to move up the order.
“After the crash at Turn One, the Virtual Safety Car flashed up at just the wrong time for me as I was halfway through an overtake into third,” recalls Ilott. "So I had to concede the position.”
“I could have made more of the opportunities in Race Two,” says Ilott. “It was my mistake to give Pulcini a little too much room to find a way back past me. I think with each weekend I’m learning more about using the DRS, so I am looking forward to applying what I have learned next time out.”
With no DRS activations left, Ilott came under attack from Dorian Boccolacci. The French driver passed Ilott using DRS before running wide on the last lap with a botched attempt to pass Pulcini for a podium. Re-joining the track and slicing in front of Ilott, Boccolacci left Ilott with nowhere to go, baulking him to allow Alessio Lorandi to move past them both, leaving Ilott sixth at the flag.
“There was certainly a potential for more in the Sprint Race but I just have to accept I have some learning to do and I still extended my championship lead which was great. Being consistent and racking up the points is what I have to do from here.”
Next stop in the pre-summer triple header is Ilott’s home race at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in a week’s time.