British Korean racing driver Jack Aitken made his Formula One debut on Sunday at the Sakhir Grand Prix in Bahrain.
London-born Aitken, 25, finished 16th after stepping up to drive for Williams Racing, with fellow Brit George Russell replacing Lewis Hamilton for Mercedes after Hamilton tested positive for coronavirus.
Aitken looked comfortable in the Williams car and managed to recover from a minor crash as he pushed on in the later stages of the race.
Reflecting on his debut via Twitter, Aitken expressed his optimism for the team’s performance in one of the most exciting races of the season so far.
He said: “This weekend was such a pleasure, even more so because of the confidence I felt driving the FW43.
“To be mixing it in the midfield and moving forwards was just huge.
“The support from everyone has been mind blowing.”
Having occupied Williams’ reserve driver seat for the 2020 season, Aitken had a promising start to his debut race weekend, out-qualifying veteran driver Kimi Raikkonen in the Alfa Romeo.
While he did eventually finish the race outside of the points, his performance, crash included, reflects the ambition that he might bring to a team that sits last in the constructors’ standings with zero points.
Aitken has spent three years driving in Formula Two and finished fifth in the drivers’ standings last year with Campos Racing, before ending this year 14th overall.
Despite this fall in the standings, Aitken did drawn attention at Silverstone in a 2020 grid bursting with young talent, as he came third in both the sprint and feature race on home soil.
His foray into the sport’s elite championship will now provide him with invaluable experience and exposure, and he will be hoping to retain Williams’ reserve seat heading into the 2021 season.
For now, he will have to wait for an update on Hamilton’s condition, and if the world champion remains absent for the final race in Abu Dhabi, Aitken may get another chance on the Formula One grid.
“Desperate as I am to have another crack at the whip, I continue to wish Lewis Hamilton the very best,” Aitken added.
“Williams Racing, if we go again, I’m ready.”
Featured image: FIA Formula 2 Championship – Testing
Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Spain
Tuesday 5 March 2019
Jack Aitken (GBR, CAMPOS RACING)
Photo: Glenn Dunbar / FIA F2 Championship
ref: Digital Image