Callum Ilott’s transformation from midfield runner to title contender has been one of the feel-good stories of the season, with the likeable Briton leading the Drivers’ Championship for large periods of the season.
Currently second to his fellow Ferrari Academy driver, Mick Schumacher, Ilott has two rounds and four races to overturn a 22-point deficit and take the title. It’s excruciatingly tight.
We evaluate his season so far ahead of the showdown.
UNLOCKING HIS POTENTIAL
Where to start? Ilott’s season has been full of positive moments, from winning the season opener in Spielberg, to his historic victory on home soil at Silverstone. Or any one of his four pole positions – the most on the grid this season. On his day, the Briton is truly electric.
It was in a dramatic first race of the season that Ilott laid down a gauntlet and proved to the world of motorsport that his F2 title bid was the real deal. Qualifying third behind Felipe Drugovich and his teammate, Guanyu Zhou, the 21-year-old was dynamite off the line, lunging down the middle of the duo in front of him to steal the lead.
Ilott spent the rest of the race in a dogfight with Zhou and Schumacher for first, with all three of them holding the position at times during the race. This was, until Zhou suffered from mechanical issues and Schumacher made a mistake and went wide. Ilott had kept calm and controlled out in front and showed nerves of steel to close out his first ever victory in the Championship.
Ilott has an extremely strong record over the course of the season, finishing outside of the points just four times across the 10 rounds so far – a significant improvement on his 2019 campaign, when he missed out 10 times.
Yet, those four races have still cost him, as have the occasions when he hasn’t picked up as many points as he should have done. He qualified on the front row at Silverstone, but finished fifth after a stall on the formation lap forced him to start from the pitlane. There was also his spin in the following round at Silverstone, and the collision with Yuki Tsunoda from first at Spa that forced him to retire.
An awful lot of that spurned from poor luck, but it’s dented his points tally and that will be eating away at the Ferrari junior.
With two rounds remaining and just 22 points separating him from Schumacher, Ilott will be hoping he’s used up his bad luck for the season, and that he’ll be able to let his ability do the talking.
FROM THE GRID
“I’m really looking forward to it," said Ilott. "After a long break it will be awesome to get back in the car. Bahrain is a fun track that the team have a very good history at, so I fancy my chances there a lot. I’m going there to win and give it everything I have.”