Ilott’s thoughts turn to F1 in 2022
Callum Ilott’s thoughts have turned to securing a Formula 1 seat for 2022, after announcing yesterday that he would not be racing in F1 in 2021.
After weeks of speculation after links with Haas and Alfa Romeo, the British driver confirmed that he would not be promoted from Formula 2 next year.
On social media, he said: ”It is time I announce that I have been told I will not be racing F1 in 2021. Obviously I have known this for a couple of weeks now.
“I am disappointed, but I will just work harder and do what it takes to make sure it happens in 2022. Anyway, I have a championship I want to win.”
The UNI-Virtuosi driver has a remarkable second season in Formula 2 where he currently lies in second in the drivers’ standings, 14 points behind fellow Ferrari Academy driver Mick Schumacher.
He has been in a league of his own in qualifying, racking up five pole positions at the Hungaroring, Silverstone’s second weekend, Barcelona, Monza and Bahrain at the weekend. Ilott has only failed to qualify in the top four on one occasion, with 12th in Spa.
Alongside this, Ilott has achieved three victories in the Feature Races at the Red Bull Ring, Silverstone and the Sprint Race at Monza with 6 podiums in total.
Ilott looks to have missed out after Alfa Romeo chose to continue their lineup of Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Raikkonen, whilst Haas have announced that fellow F2 driver Nikita Mazepin will be joining them and it is likely that Schumacher will be announced soon.
Ilott was due to drive for Haas in free practice at the Eifel Grand Prix last month, however the session was cancelled due to poor weather conditions.
It has been announced he will be testing for Alfa Romeo in the post-season test in Abu Dhabi in mid-december.
With Ilott’s focus turned securing an F1 seat for 2022, we look at his options for the 2021 season.
First of all, Ilott has ruled out a third season in Formula 2. Winning the championship next weekend would make him ineligible to return to the series next year.
Additionally, he stated he would not return to the series on Twitch back in September.
He said: “Let’s just say I will most likely not be doing another year of F2, 95% […] It’s too expensive.”
After missing out on a seat with Alfa Romeo, his most likely option is to become their test and reserve driver for next season.
He has had connections with the team for several years, having completed the in-season test with the team in 2019 and raced with the Sauber Junior Team by Charouz in Formula 2 last season.
Coronavirus could still haunt the F1 grid in 2021 and with several F1 drivers including Lewis Hamilton, Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll all having to miss races because of it, the role of the reserve driver will be more crucial than ever.
Another option for the Brit could be a reserve driver role with Haas. However, this looks to be the less likely of the two.
Haas currently have two test drivers, including fellow F2 driver Louis Deletraz. With Pietro Fittipaldi standing in for the injured Romain Grosjean at this weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix, it is unlikely he will be replaced next year and would most likely be the favoured reserve driver next year.
Under normal circumstances, Ilott may have been able to look at seats in other racing series as many F2 drivers have done in the past.
However, the December ending of the season and with many F1 teams delaying the decisions until later on, has meant that few seats are available in other series.
2019 Formula 2 Champion, Nyck De Vries, moved over to Formula E with a drive for the Mercedes-Benz EQ works team and will be continuing with them again this year.
This switchover is unavailable to the British driver, with all the seats already being filled and winter testing for the series currently underway ahead of their season opener in Santiago, Chile in January.
Another option could be for Ilott to hop across the pond to compete in IndyCar next year. He would be in good company alongside GP2 race winner Alexander Rossi and former F1 drivers Marcus Ericsson and Sébastien Bourdais.
At the moment, it looks like five full-time seats are still available with Carlin and Dale Coyne Racing yet to announce their lineups. There is also a seat free at Ed Carpenter Racing on a part-time basis for 13 of the 17 rounds.
The World Endurance Championship could provide the Brit with some racing action next year.
Depending on what his plans are for next year, Ilott could combine a reserve driver role or full-time race seat with a debut at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The race this year saw fellow F2 driver Louis Delétraz make his debut alongside F2 alumni Tatiana Calderón and Nyck De Vries.
Overall, the most likely option for Callum Ilott is the reserve driver role at Alfa Romeo and looking towards a promotion to Formula 1 with the team for 2022.
After his performances this year, the 22-year-old driver certainly deserves a seat on the grid and it’s a shame F1 fans won’t get to witness the stellar talent we’ve witnessed during his time in the series.
And if he does not end up with any options for 2021…well then, racing will be worse off for it.
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Image: Formula Motorsport Limited