Callum Ilott finished the first weekend of the 2020 FIA Formula Two Championship as the man to beat as he took his first-ever win in the series in Saturday’s Feature Race to help take the championship lead out of round one.
Starting from third position, Ilott made a solid start off the grid to fly into first place before turn one. Battling hard with his UNI-Virtuosi Racing teammate, Callum and Guanyu Zhou raced side-by-side through a number of corners before Callum, who was no longer on the racing line, was forced to yield the position before the fast-sweeping turn seven and tucked into second place.
Pitting a lap after his teammate and from second place, Callum rejoined the race ahead of Zhou but was soon passed by the driver on the up-to-temperature harder compound tyres. Ilott then had the task of passing Mick Schumacher, who had jumped him in the pit stops, and after patiently waiting for his opportunity, passed his fellow Ferrari Driver Academy member to retake second place.
Race leader, Guanyu Zhou, then encountered mechanical issues and handed Callum the lead of the race. Despite a late safety car, Callum saw off the challenge from Schumacher and set the fastest lap of the race on his way to taking his maiden FIA F2 win by over eight seconds.
In Sunday’s Sprint Race, Callum started the reverse grid race from 8th place. Matching the pace of the runners around him, Callum eventually crossed the finishing line in 9th place.
Callum takes the championship lead into the second weekend in Austria (10-12 July) with 27 points and with a four-point advantage.
I was really happy with my lap in qualifying, the team gave me a rapid car and I felt confident enough to push it to the limit.
Race one was my best-ever start in F2, getting into the lead before turn one. After that, Guanyu Zhou and I were having a great fight and it was a fun scrap at the beginning. Mick (Schumacher) then got involved as well and we were fighting until the pit stops, where everyone undercut each other.
Coming out on the prime tyres, it felt like we had a lot of pace once we got them up to temperature. Obviously, Zhou had a lot of bad luck with his issue and I'm really gutted for him. He drove a great race and was really, really pushing the pace and I think that we would have had a good race at the end.
After the late safety car, I was able to break away and set some really good times at the end. It is great to start the year like this and I want to say a big thanks to the team for putting on a fantastic car. To come straight into the team and win our first race together is an amazing feeling, so big thanks to them for helping me take my first F2 win.
Sunday's race was tougher, I got a good start but didn't have anywhere to go at turn one so ended up on the back foot on the run up the hill. I was able to keep pace with the guys in front of me but, unfortunately, we just didn't have enough speed to push forward.
Overall though, an amazing start to the year and life with UNI-Virtuosi Racing. It's great that we have another weekend here in Austria and I'll be looking to carry this momentum through to next week.
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