Home Featured Alfa Romeo signs Callum Ilott as F1 reserve driver, hands him FP1 debut

Alfa Romeo signs Callum Ilott as F1 reserve driver, hands him FP1 debut

by Ida Wood

Photo: Sauber Group

Callum Ilott will serve as one of Alfa Romeo Racing’s reserve drivers in Formula 1 this year, filling the position when Robert Kubica is unavailable.

The Ferrari junior was championship runner-up in Formula 2 last year, but couldn’t find a race seat in the top level of single-seaters for 2021 and instead became Ferrari’s test driver.

Ferrari said he would make his F1 free practice debut some time during the season, and that will now come in this weekend’s Portuguese Grand Prix at the Algarve circuit with Alfa Romeo.

“I am really happy to be joining the team for this season and I’d like to thank Alfa Romeo Racing and the Ferrari Driver Academy for the trust they have put in me,” said Ilott.

“The two sessions I had with the team in the last two years have been extremely useful in getting me accustomed to the way a F1 team works and I am confident I can hit the ground running in my new role as one of the reserve drivers at Alfa Romeo. I can’t wait to be in the car and help the team continue its progress.”

Ilott had his first F1 test with Alfa Romeo in 2019 while he was racing in F2 as a junior driver of Sauber, the company behind the F1 team, then did simulator work with Alfa at the start of last year before making another test appearance post-season.

He was supposed to make his F1 free practice debut with Haas (a Ferrari engine customer alongside Alfa) in last year’s Eifel Grand Prix at the Nurburgring, but bad weather led to the session being cancelled.

“I am delighted to welcome Callum to our team: his journey through the junior series has been an impressive one and he is without doubt one of the most talented young drivers coming through the ranks,” Frederic Vasseur, Sauber’s CEO, said.

“He has worked with us before, each time leaving a lasting impression thanks to his work ethic and good feedback, and I have no doubt he will be a very positive addition to Robert Kubica, who will be unavailable on various occasions due to his other racing programmes. Callum will have a busy programme and we can’t wait to see him on track again this weekend.”

Both Kubica and Ilott are racing in sportscars this year, with grand prix-winning former F1 star Kubica currently leading the way in the European Le Mans Series in an LMP2 prototype shared with F2 veteran Louis Deletraz and reigning Euroformula champion Yifei Ye after winning the season opener.

Ilott meanwhile has joined fellow Ferrari simulator drivers Antonio Fuoco and Davide Rigon in an Iron Lynx-run Ferrari GT3 car in the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup, and finished fourth on his debut at Monza.