Photo: Callum Ilott at the rookie test at Texas Motor Speedway yesterday. Image from Penske Entertainment
Callum Ilott began his first full year in Indycar Sunday. The rookie driver of the number77 Juncos Hollinger Racing started and finished 19th. He had a clean race and finished on the lead lap. I talked to him a couple of days before the race. Ilott said he planned to use this year to learn and gain experience. He also discussed the possibility of returning to Formula 1.
For this season, Ilott has one thing in mind.
“Just experience. it’s a very different environment, and something I’m not really used to. So I’m looking forward to learning some new stuff, seeing new places. All these tracks are new for me as well. So it’s just a bit of excitement, a bit of unknowns.”
At the time of our chat, Ilott had not driven at St. Pete. He wasn’t sure if it would be similar to Long Beach.
” I would say Long Beach was slightly more bumpy but I would say not the bumpiest. I think this one yeah, no way to prepare me quite well for this, but obviously I still approach it humbly shall I say?”
Ilott competed in the final three races of the 2021Indycar season. His first taste of Indycar was challenging.
” It was very tough. A big culture shock in that sense. But I think that’s what there are a lot of things we’ll learn in that style and those races so yeah, I’m happy I did them. Even if the results didn’t match. It was great to get the experience and what was necessary for this year.”
Ilott thinks that the experience the Carlin crew brings to his team will be helpful this season.
“It’s great to have them. It’s a great baseline. You know, obviously they had some struggling as did our team as well. But we have a good baseline and we can work from there. And we’ve already done quite a bit of development. So we’ll see. We’ll see. It should be should be okay, but it will be tough at the same time.”
As far as returning to Europe, he is happy for his time there, but Ilott is not sure he will ever be in Formula 1.
“Look, I’m always open to it, but I’m here at the moment and I’m going to try and make the most out of the career I can get here. Because f1 the last few years wasn’t achievable. I don’t think that’s really going to change right now. Maybe if I was here for the next two years, and I got some great results next year. That could change but as of right now it’s it’s my focus is Indycar.”
Ilott participated in the rookie oval test at Texas yesterday. He had the second fastest lap behind Kyle Kirkwood.