Current Williams reserve driver Jack Aitken is hoping to put his name among the contenders to gain a race seat with the team in 2022.
The 25-year-old is currently recovering after sustaining a fractured collarbone and vertebra in a serious four-car crash at the 24 Hours of Spa recently, which has ruled him out of racing for the foreseeable future.
Aitken subbed in for George Russell at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix for his F1 race debut and, after time spent on reserve duties in the simulator and in selected free practice sessions, he is looking to secure a full-time place on the grid in 2022 – especially after the team’s advancement up the order.
“Williams is in quite an exciting moment where we’re moving forwards,” Aitken said to Motorsport.com. “There’s a lot of energy in the team and I think they’ve made some really good decisions around structure and personnel.
“I know the direction the car is going in. I’m in almost as often as I can, trying to evaluate the development of both this year’s car and next year’s. And I think I do it quite well.
“It’s always been one of my strengths to give really strong feedback and to know what the important things are as well, because you have to know what to focus on.
“When I did the race in Sakhir and when we did the Abu Dhabi test a couple of weeks later, it’s something the guys have always commented on, and been really happy with, aside from just the pure pace.
“I would always argue that will be a really important thing moving forward in the next couple of years and knowing how to push the team forwards.”
First session back, 3 out of 4 limbs operational. I’ll take it. pic.twitter.com/GoRZqcqfzo
— Jack Aitken – 한세용 (@JaitkenRacer) August 12, 2021
Aitken is not currently among the reported favourites to gain a race seat with Williams next year, but he says he is working hard and doing all he can to be given the drive, should one become available.
“Obviously there’s a lot up in the air at the moment,” he explained. “It could be two seats [free] or it could be zero seats, nobody really knows yet.
“I’m just cracking on with the job I’ve got, both in my reserve duties with them and in trying to be as effective and helpful as I can be at the simulator looking towards what’s quite an important year for everyone next year.
“With the FP1, I want to pitch up and be able to do a stellar job for them. That’s the main focus for me right now. I’m trying to constantly be in touch with the team, both on the side of staying plugged in to what’s happening with the race team, as well as the engineering squad and what direction the car is going to.
“Plus also staying in touch with Jost [Capito, team principal] and seeing what I can do to help the team. I’m quite confident they will do what’s best for the team. I think I can do a very good job for them and I’m doing a very good job for them at the moment.”