This time last year, Callum Ilott was fighting Mick Schumacher for both a Formula 2 championship and the honor of showing their mutual employer, the Ferrari Driver Academy, that he was ready for a Formula 1 seat. Schumacher won that battle, he took the F1 seat at Haas, and Ilott was left waiting when the other two new seats on the grid went to Red Bull junior Yuki Tsunoda and well-funded chaos enthusiast Nikita Mazepin. Ilott sat out the 2021 season, knowing that an F2 championship over a weaker field would do him no good, and waited for the 2022 Formula 1 grid to open up. With that grid effectively complete, Ilott has chosen to focus on racing something else. Like former Haas F1 ace Romain Grosjean and former Marussia driver Alexander Rossi, he's chosen to take his talents to IndyCar.
Ilott will join Juncos Hollinger Racing, the team he has made two starts for in 2021, full time next season. He will drive the Chevrolet-powered No. 77 as the team's first full-time entrant, a tall task that will see him as the only driver announced to run in a one-car team in the entire series.
Juncos Hollinger Racing has competed part-time in IndyCar since 2017, but had not raced since 2019 until Ilott's debut in Portland earlier this month. The team's highest-ever finish is Sebastian Saavedra's 15th in the 2017 Indianapolis 500. However, the program also has two driver's championships in Indy Lights, Spencer Pigot's 2015 title and Kyle Kaiser's series win in 2017. The team also won last season's Indy Pro Mazda championship.
Signing a driver as promising as Ilott represents a significant step up in ambition for the entire program. Without experience in the car or a teammate to share notes with, however, Ilott and JHR may have a difficult time getting up to competitive speed in the first half of the season. Both driver and team will face serious expectations for serious growth when they debut together as full-time entrants at St. Petersburg next February.
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