Ferrari junior Callum Ilott finally got his official baptism of fire in F1 on Friday at Portimão after his aborted FP1 chance with Haas six months ago at the rained-out Eifel Grand Prix.
Ilott, who finished second behind Mick Schumacher in the 2020 FIA Formula 2 Championship, was named as Alfa Romeo's second reserve driver earlier this week, hence his FP1 outing with the Swiss outfit in place of Antonio Giovinazzi.
The 22-year-old acquitted himself well in the opening session, clocking in P17, 0.4s behind teammate Kimi Raikkonen but more importantly, keeping himself out of trouble.
"Obviously for me I was still taking it easy as well," he said after the session. "It was interesting to experience it.
"But once I was up to speed with the tyres and getting used to it, I think I finished the run on the hards, one-tenth off Kimi, which is not too bad at the time.
"Then we went to the softs and I completely got caught out at the beginning by how much grip and also getting the tyres in.
"So struggled a bit then but then we came in, rebalanced and then I think with the tyre mileage I had, I didn’t do a bad time.
"Overall, building consistently, was very happy with the session, got through all the run plan that we needed to and discovered the limitations we have as a team and as a driver as well.
"Lots learned from my side and lots learned from the team. So yeah, big thanks to Alfa Romeo for giving me the opportunity."
Ilott has experienced F1 machinery in the past, but still admitted to being overwhelmed by the "unbelievable" level of performance of the modern F1 car, especially on low fuel runs.
"I’ve had a few opportunities now, a few highs and lows as well," he said. "From that side, to get the first experience of a session was a wow factor, but these machines over one lap are incredible.
"It’s unbelievable how fast they are, but I think it was quite nice for me after the session to step back and enjoy the moment afterwards.
"In the moment, you’re focused on what you’re doing. It’s not that the wow factor is gone, when I take a step back it’s there. It’s just when you’re in the moment, you have to make the most out of it."
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