F2 runner-up Callum Ilott endured a tumultuous time in his pursuit to join Formula 1. But he’s found a new path in America.
2020’s Formula 2 vice-champion Callum Ilott was seemingly one to watch for the future. With Ilott being a member of the Ferrari Drivers Academy (FDA) and a reserve driver for Alfa Romeo, things looked optimistic for the young Brit. However, things didn’t quite pan out the way he may have initially thought. Instead, Ilott found himself competing in Indycar for the 2022 season and on a year-long FDA sabbatical. So what were the events that led him from F2 to the US?
The 23-year-old racer was born and raced in Cambridge, England. Having begun his karting career at the age of ten, Ilott moved up to single-seaters at 17, in 2015 joining the F3 European Championship.
Before competing in that series, Ilott signed with the Red Bull Junior team but was subsequently dropped after the season following a winless campaign. In 2017, he signed with the FDA where he competed for PREMA in his third season of the Formula 3 European Championship. After finishing fourth in that series, he moved up to GP3 (F3) in 2018 finishing third for the ART Grand Prix team. Ilott took home two wins and seven podiums.
Following his success in GP3, Ilott graduated to Formula 2 in 2019. That same year he became a test driver for Alfa Romeo. 2020 was the year he really made his mark in the junior ranks. He finished second in F2, narrowly missing out by fourteen points to fellow FDA member Mick Schumacher. Later on that year he participated in the Formula 1 post-season for Alfa Romeo as well as being announced as the new test driver for Scuderia Ferrari for the 2021 season.
In 2021, Ilott was unable to find a seat in F1 instead opting to take the next best thing. He became a reserve driver for Alfa Romeo alongside Robert Kubica and a test driver for Ferrari. Ilott completed FP1 sessions for Alfa Romeo at the Portuguese and Austrian Grands Prix.
Callum Ilott joins Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN as Reserve Driver for 2021 – https://t.co/dIrCFvHGIT https://t.co/MNLLE9sjrD photo Sauber #alfaromeracing #alfaromeo #reserve #driver #formula1 #f2 #racing #motorsport #british #uk #italy pic.twitter.com/Hu3G4Djrks
— automobilsport (@automobilsport) April 27, 2021
Despite still remaining as a reserve driver for the 2022 season, Ilott was not recalled as a test driver and was given a ‘year-long gap year’ from the FDA while he competes in IndyCar. He finished 20th racing for Juncos Hollinger Racing, but was the second-highest rookie in the standings. Ilott is just one of many drivers that have made the switch from the Formula series to IndyCar including Romain Grosjean, Marcus Ericcson, and Juan Pablo Montoya.
Ilott recently confirmed that he has signed a two-year contract with Juncos Hollinger Racing through 2024. With Ilott gaining two more years of experience in IndyCar, he’ll have time to further develop his skills. At that point could Ilott return to the FDA and the Formula series?
With Alfa Romeo potentially introducing Formula 2’s Theo Pourchaire as their reserve driver for next season, is Ilott in danger of losing his spot? Or has he found a new home in IndyCar?