Ferrari test driver Ilott to get FP1 sessions in 2021, says Binotto
Despite Callum Ilott finishing runner-up in the 2020 Formula 2 season, running for Alfa Romeo in F1’s post-season Abu Dhabi test and very nearly making his Free Practice 1 debut at the Eifel Grand Prix with Haas, there was to be no promotion to a Formula 1 race seat for the Briton in 2021. But Ilott will still keep his F1 eye in with FP1 outings this season, according to the Scuderia’s Team Principal Mattia Binotto.
While 2020 Formula 2 champion Mick Schumacher graduates to Formula 1 with Haas this year – where he’ll be paired with fifth-place finisher in the 2020 standings, Nikita Mazepin – for Ilott, a test driver role with Ferrari for this season beckons, as the team prepare their 2022 car while simultaneously honing their 2021 machine, set to be called the SF21.
But Binotto said that, although Schumacher was the sole Ferrari Driver Academy member to step up to F1 this year, he nonetheless had plans for Ilott to get free practice experience in 2021, most likely with a Ferrari customer team – meaning either Haas or Alfa Romeo.
“We've got Mick in Haas starting his experience in F1,” said Binotto, “but we've got still young drivers competing in F2 – like for example Robert Shwartzman. And there is Callum Ilott, who will be our test driver, will do simulator, and will do free practices.”
Meanwhile, last week Ilott completed around 50 laps of Ferrari’s Fiorano test circuit in Maranello, as part of a bumper five-day test featuring Ferrari race drivers Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, along with Schumacher, Shwartzman, Marcus Armstrong and Giuliano Alesi.
And Ilott – who told the Formula 2 website in December last year that he didn’t plan to contest the series again in 2021 – said that it was “a good start” to his life as an embedded member of the Ferrari F1 team.
“It was a great feeling and a great experience to get refreshed, back in a proper car,” said Ilott, who like his fellow drivers used a 2018-spec Ferrari SF71H for the test.
“This was a good start to the year to get a bit more experience with the team and understand a bit more the working environment within F1, so that hopefully by the pre-season tests, I can be as immersed as possible in this Ferrari F1 world.”