Haas won’t be judging Ilott on ‘outright pace’ on his debut FP1 appearance, says Steiner

SOCHI, RUSSIA - SEPTEMBER 26: Callum Ilott of Great Britain and UNI-Virtuosi Racing prepares for

With Ferrari junior Callum Ilott taking over Romain Grosjean’s Haas for FP1 at the Nurburgring on Friday, Team Principal Guenther Steiner has detailed what he is looking for from the British F2 driver’s Grand Prix weekend debut.

Ilott, 21, currently sits second in the 2020 F2 championship behind fellow Ferrari Driver Academy member Mick Schumacher, who will participate in FP1 for Alfa Romeo this weekend – both drivers having tested a 2018 Ferrari at Fiorano last week in preparation for their F1 practice session outings this weekend.

READ MORE: The lowdown on the three Ferrari juniors set to make their Grand Prix weekend debuts this year

With rain on the horizon, Steiner urged caution from Ilott and said the team would do everything they could to take the pressure off the Briton.

“The programme will be the same as it would be for one of our regular drivers,” said Steiner. “Maybe we tell him (Ilott) to be a little bit more careful when he goes out there as at the moment rain is predicted.

Ferrari juniors Schumacher, Ilott and Shwartzman drive F1 car at Fiorano

“Otherwise, we just always try and work through our FP1 program and do the best we can knowing that for a driver being in his first weekend session in a Formula 1 car – there’s a lot of pressure, a lot of unknowns.”

Rather than expecting Ilott to top the timesheets for Haas, Steiner instead urged the youngster to bring something back to their engineers in the 90-minute session and prove that he can drive consistently at the Nurburgring.

READ MORE: 'The cream always rises to the top' – No regrets over letting ex-Red Bull juniors leave, insists Horner

“We don’t look too much at the time, we’re looking at his consistency and the feedback he can bring to the team,” he said.

“That’s where we judge a driver, not on outright pace, because 90 minutes is not a long time to be sitting in a car like a Formula 1 car. We’ll just try to manage that we get feedback and that he gets a good experience with us.”

The last two drivers to have participated in practice for Haas (other than their race drivers) were Antonio Giovinazzi and Charles Leclerc, both of whom ended up with full time race seats in F1. And that means Ilott may have more on his mind than just FP1 at the Nurburgring, as Steiner has previously said that there are “10 potential people” who could land a seat with them for 2021, with current drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen both out of contract at the end of the year.

Currently sitting second on 169 points, Ilott has a 22-point gap to Schumacher in the F2 standings ahead of the last two rounds of the season Bahrain.

READ MORE: DRIVER MARKET – What will Alfa Romeo’s line-up look like in 2021?


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