Callum Ilott said he had “nowhere else to go” when the gap between a GT4 car to his right and the outer wall to his left got “smaller and smaller” before turning into a collision that ended his AF Corse Ferrari crew’s Indianapolis 8 Hour presented by AWS bid.
Ilott was leading the race and due to make the No. 71 Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020’s final pit stop when he approached Mikel Miller’s Automatic Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT4 at the end of the main straight with just over 50 minutes remaining.
After a blue flag appeared from a trackside marshal’s post, the Formula 1 reserve driver took the outside line in an attempt to get past Miller’s car in the Turn 1 braking zone.
However, the final gap wasn’t large enough for the Ferrari to squeeze through and Ilott struck both the Aston Martin and the wall, in an impact that broke his car’s steering arm and sent it into retirement.
Ilott said after the race that he made an ‘instinctive’ decision to pass Miller on the left side and was left confused as to why the gap closed when he drew alongside the Aston.
“He was on the inside of the racing line, and I thought he was pointing more towards the corner,” Ilott told Sportscar365.
“He braked early and then, at that point, I had to make the decision of going left or right.
“Instinctively I went left because I thought he was pointing more towards the apex, and as I started braking he started to creep. At the point of turn-in he really went left, and that’s when I had nowhere else to go.”
Ilott said that the two drivers exchanged words after the collision in an attempt to understand how their cars came together.
The incident came after an exciting chase between Ilott and Audi Sport Team Sainteloc driver Patric Niederhauser, who pressured the leading Ferrari in the penultimate stint.
Niederhauser went on to win the race alongside Markus Winkelhock and Christopher Haase.
“The camera angle doesn’t really do it justice, but I would say there was at least half a car width either side [of the Ferrari] when I started,” Ilott described.
“And then it got smaller and smaller as I committed to it. The problem is that we’re braking at the 400 marker and normally they brake at 550. He braked at 600.
“He said he saw me and was trying to let me past, but I said, ‘why didn’t you stay on the left?’ He said there was so much space on the inside, but I’m not going to go all the way to the inside.
“So there’s one car width to the left and technically one car width to the right. I went to the outside because I was on the racing line at the braking point.
“Normally I expect someone to brake straight. Or at least to the inside, because he was braking as if it was a defensive line. I’m just not sure what he was doing.”
Ilott tried to bring his AF Corse Ferrari around the Turn 1 right-hander after the contact but immediately found that the car’s right-front corner wasn’t turning in.
“I went to go and it was not working,” he said.
“It was a shame because it was one of those silly accidents: for me, I shouldn’t have gone to the outside, but you have to make a decision of where to go.
“At the end of the day, the room was there and then it wasn’t. But he said he saw me. I think it was just confusion on that side.”