British Formula 2 racer Callum Ilott has been named as test driver for the Ferrari Formula 1 team in 2021. Such a role and the status that comes with it clearly represents a big break for the 22-year-old, who was already a member of the Ferrari Academy for young talent.
The deal falls well short of guaranteeing the Cambridge driver a Ferrari race seat in the future, but it could set him on a path that one day might allow him to join a grand tradition: British racing drivers who have represented the Prancing Horse on the grand prix stage. Here’s a run-down of those who precede Ilott and who might offer a spark of inspiration.
Peter Whitehead (1950-52)
Wealthy amateur who became the first Brit to race a Ferrari in F1, after buying a V12-powered 125 – and painting it British Racing Green. Made 10 world championship starts, with a best result of third in the 1950 French GP, when only a gearbox problem robbed him of a chance for victory. Won high-profile non-championship races, including in Czechoslavakia – the first major win for a British driver overseas since 1938.
Mike Hawthorn (1953-58)
Beat Juan Manuel Fangio in a slipstreaming thriller at Reims to become the first British driver to win an F1 world championship grand prix, in 1953. Then five years later, became Britain’s first world champion driving the V6-powered Dino 246 – only to die a few months later in a road crash on the Hog’s Back near Guildford.
Peter Collins (1956-58)
Joined his ‘Mon Ami Mate’ Hawthorn at Ferrari in 1956, winning the Belgian and French GPs, but gallantly sacrificed his own title chances at Monza to team-mate Fangio, giving up his car for The Maestro to take over. Collins won the British GP in 1958, but at the following race at the Nürburgring he crashed to his death while in pursuit of Tony Brooks’s Vanwall.
Tony Brooks (1959)
Raced for Ferrari for one season following Vanwall’s F1 withdrawal. Won the French GP and the German at the fearsome AVUS, but lost his world title chance in the finale at Sebring after being delayed by a pitstop in the wake of a hit from team-mate Wolfgang von Trips.
Cliff Allison (1959-60)