Ferrari Junior Callum Ilott, secured his first win in the GP3 category with an emphatic Sprint Race victory at his team’s home track, Paul Ricard.
Coupled with a points-paying eighth in Saturday’s race, Ilott leaves the French Grand Prix venue fourth in the standings.
“Getting my first GP3 sprint win, at ART’s home race, somehow feels like the right thing,” says Ilott. “Big thanks to ART as the car felt really good and so I was able to showcase a little more of what’s possible.”
"The weekend didn’t go exactly to plan,“ continues Ilott, “So it’s a real bonus to take a win on the second weekend in the Championship and my first GP3 win with the FDA.”
Starting from pole position, Ilott was outpaced by a fast-starting Pedro Piquet into Turn Two. Ilott followed closely and waited until the Beausset corner to pounce back. With a confident move diving to the inside, Ilott was back ahead and pulling away by the end of lap one as Piquet defended from Mawson.
“I was expecting to get a better start than I did. I had a bit of an issue managing the clutch which was overheating. So I didn’t get the best getaway,” explains Ilott. “Although Pedro initially got ahead, he looked like he was struggling with his tyre temp. I sat tight and then in the second fastest corner of the track I held it on the inside and I had enough traction to get past. From there, with the clean air, I focused on building a gap.”
“Having opened the gap to Pedro, that made it easier to deal with the degradation so I crossed the line with a comfortable three second lead.”
Sunday morning’s race, ahead of the French Grand Prix, followed Saturday’s encounter where Ilott ultimately finished in eighth, which converted into the pole position for Sunday’s outing.
“Our strategy didn’t play out as we’d planned on Friday and Saturday,” says Ilott. “An imperfect Quali session from me, meant I was starting P7. After another tricky getaway, I was managing tyres and looking to use DRS later in the race. Frustratingly, just as I was about to push forward, the DRS was totally disabled and that was that. I got passed my team mate Jake, and then I tried everything I could to pass Mawson ahead of me without the DRS, but it wasn’t to be. I hear it was quite entertaining to watch.”
"Ultimately though, finishing eighth after the stewarding decisions later in the day, gifted me an opportunity to turn the weekend around. In racing you take the luck when it comes your way so I made sure I made the most of it.”
The next two weeks now see Callum competing at two tracks at which he has won in F3, kicking off with the Red Bull Ring in Austria, before his home race at Silverstone just one week later.
“Although we are now moving on to tracks where I haven’t tested the GP3 at all, I do know them well," remarks Ilott. “I always enjoy taking a win at the Red Bull Ring, so I am looking forward to next weekend.”