Podium tops tough weekend at Imola
Bishop Stortford’s Callum Ilott fought back from a difficult weekend to secure third place in the final race of the FIA Formula 3 Championship at Imola in Italy this weekend. Feeling under the weather from the outset, Ilott was enduring a tough time at the former San Marino Grand Prix venue and with a 15th in Race One and retirement in Race Two, Ilott was in a determined frame of mind to make amends in Sunday afternoon’s encounter.
Starting from the outside of front row and mindful of start line issues that stymied his Race One getaway when the car came close to stalling, Ilott got safely away to slot in behind newly-crowned champion Lance Stroll and George Russell. The three cars avoided the incidents that occurred behind to build up a comfortable gap from fourth car Ralf Aron. As the time ticked away in the 35-minute encounter, Ilott was locked on Russell’s tail working hard to narrow the gap, but despite pushing hard, there was no way past before the flag dropped.
“It’s been one of the hardest weekends of the season,” says Ilott. “We struggled with the car and in truth, I wasn’t at my best either. In Race One I really wasn’t comfortable with the handling of the car as it had too much understeer, and combined with old rubber, and getting squeezed off a couple of times, the result was a finish outside of the points.”
“Starting from the second row in Race Two, I thought we’d get a solid haul of points but the car felt worse than Race One and eventually after a component failure I ended up retiring after just one lap. The team worked hard to get the car sorted and Race Three was much more like it, achieving the form we know is possible. I pushed as hard as I could and together with George we had a clean race and I was happy to be back on the podium.”
The series returns to Germany in 10 days’ time with the final round of the championship at Hockenheim. “We are still fifth but now just one point behind fourth,” concludes Ilott. “Third in the championship is still possible and we’ll try as hard as we can to get that. I’ve planned time with the engineers and team principal to make sure we are as prepared as we can. Hockenheim can be fun, especially if it’s a wet weekend.”