Callum Ilott felt 'free' after Red Bull Junior programme exit

Formula 3 European Championship race winner Callum Ilott has admitted "I felt free" after being dropped by the Red Bull Junior programme at the end of 2015

Callum Ilott felt 'free' after Red Bull Junior programme exit

The 17-year-old went straight from karts to F3 under Red Bull's wing last season, but was flicked after a promising but winless campaign with Carlin.

He got his new association with Van Amersfoort Racing for 2016 off to a winning start with victory in the second race of the opening round at Paul Ricard.

"The thing with Red Bull is they put you in quite a good position but you just have to deal with it," said Ilott.

"But now I can go and do a race in Formula V8 3.5 if I want to, I can go and race in GP3, or BRDC British F3.

"I'm just free to do what I want, whereas last year I didn't know what I could do - when I needed some experience and to do some other stuff, I didn't really have that opportunity."

Ilott added that he understood the reasoning behind his ejection from Red Bull.

"In the short term I didn't get the results they wanted," he said. "I was quite relaxed at the start to be fair, because I thought I had quite a bit of leeway, but I never really improved that much and that's when I started to put pressure on myself.

"In the end I said, 'Whatever happens I can't change it - I've just got to do the best I can.'"

VAR team boss Frits van Amersfoort believes that Ilott will enjoy further success in F3 after his maiden win, taken after he battled back from a fire in Thursday's test that left his intended race car too badly damaged to take part.

Ilott drove a car hastily built up by the Van Amersfoort Racing team around a tub borrowed from T-Sport. He scored his win from sixth on the grid, and would have been in contention for the finale, for which he qualified third, had he not stalled at the start.

"I'm sure he will win more," said van Amersfoort.

"We're very happy with the win. Frankly the team has had not had the easiest weekend, and going from three cars to four [as VAR has done this season] brings more pressures."

Van Amersfoort paid tribute to Ilott's magnanimity towards his team, in the wake of its hard work to build the new car, after his win.

"He simply thanked the team for winning - that's the best gift he could give his crew," he said. "I understand if a driver feels not comfortable yet [with the new car].

"I think Callum is a brilliant young talent, there's no doubt about it - he's also a nice kid to work with and has a good sense of humour.

"You sure feel that he's young, but we like the challenge of making a rough diamond a bit polished."

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