The name Callum Ilott might not be familiar to many, but Red Bull believes this karting ace is the next big thing.
After fast-tracking Max Verstappen straight to Formula One via Formula Three, Red Bull has selected its latest karting prodigy for its junior team ranks in 2015: Callum Ilott.
The 16-year-old Briton will race for Carlin in this year’s FIA Formula 3 European Championship, meaning that, like Verstappen, his first full-season introduction to car racing will be in the hotbed of one of the most competitive open-wheel series on the planet.
His only previous car racing experience has been the Toyota Racing Series in New Zealand, in which he best result so far is fourth – his only top-10 finish, and he lies 18th in the standings.
Impressive karting pedigree
Ilott is the reigning CIK-FIA KF European karting champion. He also won the WSK KF class super masters title, and was third in KF class at the WSK Champions Cup, having started his karting career in 2008.
Red Bull’s Dr Helmut Marko clearly believes he has spotted another ‘special one’ here, although there have been plenty of misses along the way too. Ilott joins a three-strong Red Bull Junior line-up, along with GP2 racer Pierre Gasly and recently-signed Dean Stoneman, who will race in Formula Renault 3.5.
“Being in the Red Bull Junior Team is a privilege, you just have to look at the history of the drivers that have gone before,” said Ilott.
“Last season was very good for me so I was hoping for a good start in cars but I didn’t imagine that I would get this opportunity. The step up to F3 is quite something, I have a lot to learn but I have already had a very good start with a few F3 tests with Carlin and a couple of tests in a Renault 2.0.
“I want to make a good impression this year; show my speed early and keep improving.”
Facing a steep learning curve
Team chief Trevor Carlin, who has guided many Red Bull talents including Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo and Carlos Sainz, said: “We’re very excited to have such a young talent join the team.
“Whilst Callum will be on a steep learning curve we fully expect him to show a rapid rate of development as the season progresses. We’d like to thank Dr Marko for entrusting us yet again with one of his young protégés.”