Ferrari Formula 1 test driver Callum Ilott believes he’s arriving into the GT racing scene at a “good time” with Ferrari’s factory Le Mans Hypercar program on the horizon in 2023.
Ilott made his sports car racing debut in last weekend’s 3 Hours of Monza, which opened the new Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup season.
The Brit, who was runner-up to Mick Schumacher in FIA Formula 2 last year, told Sportscar365 that he has so far enjoyed his move to a new discipline for his 2021 race program and described the Monza race in mixed conditions as a “baptism of fire”.
When asked about whether he sees GT racing as a long-term career option, Ilott was non-committal but expressed interest in Ferrari’s factory LMH involvement and said that his current program is a good place to be, considering Maranello’s future plans.
“I’m still pushing on the F1 side and hopefully there will be quite a bit of involvement with that in the coming weeks,” he said. “But I’ve been focusing on the GT side for now.
“It’s a great opportunity for me to experience the GT side of life with a competitive car with competitive teammates in a very, very competitive championship. It’s very, very tight.
“It’s great timing that if I do have that career route of GTs or Hypercars or whatever situation, having the experience now is crucial on that side.
“It’s almost in the deep end to start. It’s a good championship to learn and very competitive and rewarding if you do very well.
“We’ll see what the route is. Whilst I’m here, I’m pushing as much as possible to learn and develop on the GT side. My background is single-seaters at the moment and there’s still a good chance to continue on the F1 route.
“Honestly if I could give an answer I would. I’ve got to play both sides. But at the moment I’m enjoying this and it’s something very different.
“It’s a great atmosphere and something I will get used to.”
Ilott won three Formula 2 races last year with UNI-Virtuosi Racing and finished 14 points behind series champion Schumacher who has since graduated to an F1 seat with Haas.
The 22-year-old was named in December as a Ferrari F1 tester and will balance that role with his five Endurance Cup races for Iron Lynx including the Total 24 Hours of Spa.
Ilott described Ferrari’s LMH commitment as an “exciting project” despite being in its early stages and suggested that running in GTs will provide him with a mixed racing background that could be a useful asset to have in the top-level prototype ranks.
“Firstly for the sport, for Ferrari itself, it’s a great opportunity,” he said. “From that side, it’s going to be really interesting to see from a progression point of view and will bring a lot more attention to that side.
“As a car itself, I can imagine it [will be] very nice to drive as we saw the full potential of the LMP1 cars after its racing history going out and setting the times it really could.
“From my point of view, I see what’s going on. I don’t know too much about the situation other than what you hear in the news as it’s still new for all of us.
“We’ll see more in the future. Any route in racing is an interesting route. Right now I’m in GTs and GTs are very different to F1, and Hypercars are more similar to the GT side.
“For me it’s a good time to get into the GT side of things and endurance racing if that was the path for me. So at least I can get some experience on that side.
“The single-seater background helps because as a car to drive, it’s probably more similar to that side than a GT car.
“It’s definitely of interest to me but right now the GT stuff, the F1 commitments and then we’ll see, maybe the middle of next year if that’s the case or not.
“It’s definitely an exciting project for Ferrari, and an exciting project overall, and something I wouldn’t say no to at all.”