Ilott, racing for the first time for ART Grand Prix, took a third place in Saturday’s Feature race; the curtain-raiser to the FIA F1 race weekend at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. Combined with a seventh place in Sunday’s wet sprint race, Ilott now sits fourth in the championship.
“Coming into the weekend, my goals were to learn as much as possible about the car in race conditions, whilst banking the points,” says Ilott. “To finish my first main feature race on the podium, first-time out was a good feeling.”
Ilott, who made a good getaway from fourth, had moved up to third on the first lap and then proceeded to hunt down his team mate Hubert. Having closed the gap, Ilott passed Hubert on lap 12 to take second place on the run down to the first corner.
“Once I moved up to third, I focused on consistently closing the gap on Anthoine and with DRS and maybe using slightly more of the tyres in the first half of the race, I closed in and passed him. The tyres did drop off just at the end, so it became a little harder for me, and Anthoine regained the place,” explains Ilott. “But it was good clean racing which is what it’s all about and we both enjoyed the tussle. I learned a lot about the tyres and working with the dirty air behind a car in a race setting, which is a big contrast to when you are testing.”
“A podium for my first race is a solid start to the season and hopefully I can show more of my true pace next time out.”
Sunday’s reverse grid race saw the drivers face mixed tracks conditions and Ilott got away well from the lights on the greasy track. “The wet sprint race was always going to be more challenging with me not yet knowing how the GP3 car behaves in those wet race conditions,” explains Ilott. “In hindsight I should have pushed harder initially. The plan to save the tyres for a later push backfired unfortunately, what with the multiple safety cars. Then the combination of the set up and the rapidly drying track meant I just didn’t have the traction at the end of the race. There are definitely things I would have done differently, but the key is to learn from the mistakes and build from here.”
“There’s lots more to come as I build my knowledge of the GP3 car and it’s a long season ahead,” says Ilott. “It’s good to finally be back racing after such a long winter. The tracks we have coming up next are where I have won before and plan to do so again.”
The next round of the series will again support the FIA F1 World Championship and take place at Paul Ricard in France next month.