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Ilott compares the Red Bull Junior Team and Ferrari Driver Academy

by Alejandro Alonso Lopez

Callum Ilott has explained the operational differences between the Red Bull Junior Team and the Ferrari Driver Academy based upon his experiences with the two Formula 1 teams.

In this week’s upcoming episode of the Formula Scout Podcast, the Briton described how the two young driver programmes worked during the time he was part of them.

Red Bull was very singular,” Ilott said. “So you have this person [saying] ‘you’ll do this and you’ll do that, good luck’ kind of thing. It’s obviously not that simple, but that was kind of the feeling and you’re like ‘okay’. And you get feedback every now and then.

“FDA was very like you’ll join these other kids, you’re going to be doing this, this is your training schedule. Like, we’ll do this together, a bit more family orientated,” he stated.

Ilott joined the RBJT ahead of his car racing debut in 2015, and would depart the programme after just one season, having finished 12th in the FIA European Formula 3 Championship with Carlin. In October 2017 he was signed by the FDA, becoming an active member of it until he left Europe to compete full-time in IndyCar in 2022.

“You know, with the Red Bull stuff, I rarely went to the factory, whereas with Ferrari, I was living at the factory. So you get to see all of this stuff, and it was also a bit of a learning exercise because the FDA was changing with people and the insides of it. So it was a bit more of a journey of like ‘what do they give you as a driver?’. So that was changing year after year [in terms of] what you were doing and all of this sort of stuff.

“With Red Bull, it was very much ‘okay, you’re driving Carlin F3’,” Ilott affirmed before explaining he had more freedom at the FDA regarding the decisions he made.

“With Ferrari, I mean, I made a lot of the decisions myself with teams and stuff like that. Obviously you have to get their approval, but it wasn’t like they were doing it for me. It was like ‘here’s the opportunities I have, what do you think?’.

“‘We think this’. And then I go ‘okay, but I think this, this, and this’.”

During his time at the FDA, Ilott also got given a test driver role at Ferrari’s Formula 1 team in 2021, and was made the reserve driver of its engine customer Alfa Romeo Racing through that year and also on occassion in 2022.

He already had a relationship with the latter, having doubled up as a junior driver of its operating company Sauber during his rookie Formula 2 season in 2019 when it had its own team in the series via a tie-up with Charouz Racing System.