It was a case of second time lucky for Callum Ilott at Silverstone this season, as the UNI-Virtuosi driver added his name to the illustrious list of British drivers to have won on home soil on a Formula 1 weekend. And, if that wasn’t already satisfying enough, the victory handed him the lead in the Drivers’ Championship.
Ilott qualified on the front row for Round 4 at Silverstone, but was forced to start the Feature Race from the pitlane as he stalled on the formation lap. Despite his best efforts and a stunning recovery drive to fifth, his wait for a win at his home event would go on a little longer.
Returning to Silverstone again in Round 5, Ilott went one better in qualifying and clinched himself pole. He converted this to a Feature Race win in emphatic fashion, rarely looking in danger of surrendering his lead, finishing nearly 9s ahead of second placed Christian Lundgaard.
“What a race from start to finish,” he elated. “We got everything right this time, unlike last weekend, so I am really happy. I can’t do any better than that, and it’s good to make up a little bit after last week, and yeah, and I can’t say it was a bad job at all.
“It's been different to how it was last weekend. I think a lot struggled in the high-speed at the start of the race and toward the end. Ultimately, it was small things last weekend, which made a big difference in the result, but we got all of those right this time and this was the end result. We should have done it earlier, but you can’t change that now.”
Ilott may have made it look easy, but says it was far from plain sailing. Virtuosi’s position in the pitlane made things a little trickier: the team had one of the first slots, so the Briton would have gotten stuck in a train of cars and lost time, had he changed his tyres at the same time as everyone else.
This forced him to make the soft tyres last a lap longer, which in a strange twist of fate, actually ended up helping him in the latter stages of the race, as his hard Pirelli’s were a lap fresher than most.
“That was always the plan,” he explained. “I had a clear run out of the pits and I think I pulled a little bit of extra time on Christian, and then tried to put a decent lap in to increase the gap and then maintained it from there. Not a bad effort, I think.
“The other guys caught up a little bit from whatever we had last weekend. Still, I think the advantage I made was really on the first stint and the pit stop. The rest I just maintained. I think they were close for sure. It definitely wasn't easy today. It was sliding around a lot.”