Ferrari Junior Callum Ilott claimed a second-place finish and his fifth podium of the 2018 GP3 Series in the intense heat at the Hungarian Grand Prix round this weekend.
Second and sixth-place finishes during the Formula One weekend meant the 19-year-old Brit added 20 points to his championship campaign and maintains second in the standings ahead of the series’ summer break.
“Given how the weekend panned out for me I am pleased to have come away with decent points and maintained my championship position,” comments Ilott. “We struggled with car balance on Saturday after a positive practice session so the day didn’t quite go to plan for me. I felt I didn’t optimise things in quali, and then the car balance wasn’t close to optimal for race one so I had to concentrate on just bringing the car home as far into the points as I could.”
Saturday afternoon’s Feature Race saw Ilott starting fifth on the grid after qualifying. A strong start off the line saw Ilott able to take fourth position from ART Grand Prix team-mate Jake Hughes coming through turn two. Running in fourth over the next three laps, Ilott pulled away from Hughes who was immediately struggling with front degradation issues. Hughes’ defending from the train behind him helped Ilott build a gap as Ilott’s balance and tyre issues became evident. By the mid-point of the race severe degradation on the front tyres ended Ilott’s plans to move up the order and culminated in a sixth-place finish.
“In race one I realised fairly quickly that with the understeer I had it would be difficult to challenge for positions, especially as the tyre deg kicked in really quickly,” explains Ilott. “So I concentrated on driving the car as well as I could in the circumstances and focused on delivering as many points as possible. I had no tyre left on the front with eight laps to go, so I just hung on to sixth.”
For Sunday’s race, the reverse grid format meant Ilott lined up on the second row. Again, utilising the outside line at the start, Ilott made a lunge for position in turn one and climbed to second place behind polesitter Dorian Boccolacci, running ahead of his ART Grand Prix team-mate and title rival Anthoine Hubert in third. Ilott, wary of the tyre degradation of the day before, carefully managed his tyres in pursuit of the MP Motorsport driver ahead. In the closing laps, he was able to reduce the gap to the leader by almost a second per lap but it wasn’t quite enough to catch the French polesitter by the chequered flag. Ilott crossed the line in second position, adding a further 12 points to his title challenge.
“Today was much more positive. We made some changes to the car’s balance after race one and the car felt a lot better. We still struggled a little with tyre degradation compared to the rest of the field but overall it was a good race,” comments Ilott. “It was very tight in the first corner at the start but I knew where I needed to put the car and managed to take P2 on the outside. It was good to gain positions early on and that set me up well for the rest of the race.”
Ilott now goes into the summer break with this weekend’s 20-point haul helping him maintain second in the standings, “The competition is close but I’ve been on the podium at each race weekend and I’m feeling very positive for the second half of the season.”
The championship heads to Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium after the summer break on 24-25 August 2018 to race through the Ardennes forest. Ilott heads into the next round with 114 points, just 15 points behind the championship leader.