Both F1 debutants see the chequered flag

Jamie Woodhouse

Pietro Fittipaldi was a little starstruck on Sakhir GP grid.

Pietro Fittipaldi and Jack Aitken, who made their F1 debuts at the Sakhir GP, can hold their heads high after both taking the chequered flag.

It was fantastic to see the Fittipaldi name back in Formula 1, though the circumstances were far from ideal with the Brazilian racer drafted in to replace Romain Grosjean after his season-ending crash in the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Aitken meanwhile was called up to a Williams race seat in place of George Russell who was released to drive for Mercedes in Sakhir after Lewis Hamilton tested positive for COVID-19 prior to the race weekend.

They may have been thrown in at the deep end, but both rookies have the honour of being able to say that they completed the Sakhir Grand Prix.

Fittipaldi crossed the line P17, the last of the runners, while Aitken overcame a spin that was him lose his front wing to finish P16.

Speaking to the Williams website, Aitken said: “I have mixed emotions and I am a bit gutted by the mistake, I think we were doing a pretty good job up until then.

“I was trying to get up to speed and follow the guys through in front of me. We were on the option tyre which was working out pretty well for us.

“I have learnt a lot this weekend, and there are a lot of positives to take away. The single lap pace came on a really long way in such a short space of time, and our race pace was good as well. If I do step in again next weekend, I will be looking to do an even better job.”

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Fittipaldi said he achieved his goal of finishing the race and enjoyed his battle with Aitken.

“I’m happy to have finished my first grand prix – that was the goal. I had a good battle at the end with Jack (Aitken), and I had Kevin (Magnussen) in front of me as well,” he told the Haas website.

“It was good to get some action in there. My pace was quite good from mid-race through to the end. At the restart I was trying to fight, but I was conscious at the same time that the goal was to finish.

“I’ve learned a lot for my next race, that’s the most important thing. It’s very difficult nowadays to make it to Formula 1 but I can say I’ve finished a Formula 1 race. I’m thankful to the team for the opportunity.”

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