Ilott: These machines over one lap are incredible


Alfa Romeo reserve driver Callum Ilott described his first Formula 1 free practice session as “interesting”, while admitting that he was “taking it easy”.

The Ferrari Driver Academy member went 17th quickest during the opening practice session ahead of the Portuguese Grand Prix at Portimao, setting a best time of 1.21.806 and completing 21 laps in total.

In the car in place of regular driver Antonio Giovinazzi, Ilott was happy with his pace on the hard tyre by comparison to Kimi Raikkonen, but explained that he was disappointed to end the session with a margin of around half a second to the Finn following their run on the soft tyres.

“Obviously for me I was still taking it easy as well,” he said. “It was interesting to experience it.

“But once I was up to speed with the tyres and getting used to it, I think I finished the run on the hards, one-tenth off Kimi, which is not too bad at the time.

“Then we went to the softs and I completely got caught out at the beginning by how much grip and also getting the tyres in.

“So struggled a bit then but then we came in, rebalanced and then I think with the tyre mileage I had, I didn’t do a bad time.

“Overall, building consistently, was very happy with the session, got through all the run plan that we needed to and discovered the limitations we have as a team and as a driver as well.

“Lots learned from my side and lots learned from the team. So yeah, big thanks to Alfa Romeo for giving me the opportunity.”

Despite finishing second in F2 last season Ilott was overlooked for a drive in F1, while Mick Schumacher, Yuki Tsunoda and Nikita Mazepin all made the step up.

Ilott though appeared positive after his first taste of an F1 race weekend, describing the 2021-spec cars as “incredible” over one lap.

“I’ve had a few opportunities now, a few highs and lows as well,” he added.

“From that side, to get the first experience of a session was a wow factor, but these machines over one lap are incredible.

“It’s unbelievable how fast they are, but I think it was quite nice for me after the session to step back and enjoy the moment afterwards.

“In the moment, you’re focused on what you’re doing. It’s not that the wow factor is gone, when I take a step back it’s there. It’s just when you’re in the moment, you have to make the most out of it.”