British F2 driver Callum Ilott could be on the verge of causing the Ferrari Driver Academy a major headache at the end of the 2020 season.
Ilott made his debut in F2 with Trident in 2017 for the British round of the championship before contesting the GP3 championship in 2018 finishing 3rd behind the much-missed Anthione Hubert and Nikita Mazepin.
His first full campaign in 2019 with the Sauber Junior Team by Charouz showed hints of his potential with two podiums and a pole position in Monza.
For this season, he joined UNI-Virtuosi and has very much been one of the title contenders with 3 wins to his name so far. He currently sits second in the standings behind FDA stablemate, Mick Schumacher.
Alfa gives Ferrari a problem
Earlier this season it seemed that regardless of who won the title, Schumacher and Ilott would be graduating to F1 for 2021; Schumacher joining Alfa Romeo alongside Kimi Räikkönen and Ilott joining Haas in place of either Kevin Magnussen or Romain Grosjean. Both drivers had FP1 outings booked for the Eifel Grand Prix but their hopes were dashed by the weather raining off the session.
With the subsequent news that Alfa Romeo would be retaining Antonio Giovinazzi for 2021, the number of available F1 seats for the F2 hopefuls has shrunk to just 2.
Should Ilott succeed in winning the F2 title this year, Ferrari will have an issue on their hands as it seems all but certain that Schumacher and Mazepin will be the two drivers graduating to F1 with the Haas team. This will leave Ilott without a seat as the F2 champion is not permitted to contest the championship a second time.
Ilott the Ferrari reserve driver?
So will Ilott be condemned to a season standing around in the Ferrari garage as reserve driver or could he take a seat in Super Formula for a season? We have seen several of the Red Bull backed drivers head to Japan including Pierre Gasly and Dan Ticktum in recent years with varying degrees of success.
Perhaps the best but most disagreeable course of action for Callum would be to ensure he doesn’t win the title this year with the long view of trying to dominate the 2021 campaign and ensure he earns that coveted F1 drive in 2022.
This would certainly allow Ilott to iron out those last wrinkles in his performance which have seen him drop points and positions at times this year.