Callum Ilott will line-up directly behind his title rival Mick Schumacher on the second row, but he is not putting too much pressure on himself regarding the start, well-aware of the Championship leader’s ability off the line.
The PREMA racer is a notoriously strong starter in Formula 2 and Ilott says he will be playing the long game in the Sochi Feature Race, with an eye on making up positions throughout the duration, not just off the line.
“Normally he has a pretty good start, I'll just try and get off the line,” Ilott began. “It is a long run down to Turn 2, and I think I am in a very good position for that. It is a long race and it is more about just getting away cleanly and staying in a good position.”
The Briton qualified three tenths off the German in an eventful Qualifying session which saw a number of the grid unintentionally get in each other’s way during push laps.
Once again, the 18-inch Pirellis added further spice to proceedings, lasting a lap longer than expected on the second run. Ilott admitted that the tyres remain a bit of a mystery this season, saying that he has come to expect the unexpected.
“It is always that we expect something and it turns out to be different, so we will see,” he explained. “Somehow everyone manged to hang on for two laps, which is not normal for the supersofts.
“Normally you are about six tenths off on the second lap, so I think that took a few people by surprise. It was a bit surprising really, but I guess that makes it a little easier for the race.
“The first run was really difficult, everyone was making mistakes and ended up blocking each other. I think that in the two laps that I tried to do, I ended up getting blocked three and a half times, so I didn’t really get much of a run in the first run. I think I was still somehow in P11, and that was after going off the track twice on my best lap to try and get around people,
“Because of that, I didn’t really have a great feeling for the car when the tyres were at their best, but we made some changes anyway and went out. The first lap was good, not perfect, but P4. Then I improved a little bit again thankfully and retained P4.
“Overall, it was not the best session, but I think I made the most out of what was going on, because it was a really messy session and not really what anybody wanted, but it wasn't too bad.”