Aitken’s Abu Dhabi wait could go to the wire

Jon Wilde
Jack Aitken

Jack Aitken

Jack Aitken has revealed he may not know until just before qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix whether he will get a second race for Williams this weekend.

The British-Korean driver was brought in at short notice for the Sakhir Grand Prix after George Russell’s call-up by Mercedes to replace Lewis Hamilton, who had to self-isolate after testing positive for COVID-19.

Aitken fulfilled media responsibilities on Thursday for the Williams team, alongside their regular driver Nicholas Latifi, as he waits to hear whether he will be needed again.

That all depends on whether Hamilton can return a negative test at the end of his self-isolation period and arrive in Abu Dhabi in time to finish a season in which he has become World Champion for a record-equalling seventh time.

And, according to Aitken, it could potentially go all the way up to the deadline on Saturday.

“From what I understand, Mercedes’ position is that they will leave it as late as they can, so basically until qualifying which is when you have to be in the car,” the 25-year-old London-born driver told Sky F1.

“Should Lewis return then George will return to the Williams and I’ll be on the bench. But I’m preparing as if I’m going to race because I don’t lose anything by doing that and we’ll see how it all plays out.”

Judging by his Twitter account, Russell is not sure how it will play out either…

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On his F1 race debut in Bahrain, Aitken finished 16th after a spin on the final corner in which he hit the wall and left part of his front wing on the track, fortunately being close to the pit lane so he could quickly dart in for repair work.

He said: “I’ve heard the joke that George’s car was a bit angry with him for leaving, so it spat me in the wall. That’s probably being a bit nice to me but hey, these things happen.”

But he was otherwise satisfied with how the race had gone and added: “Now I’ve had a bit of time to digest everything and look back on it, I’m pretty happy.

“I think it was a really challenging week to get ready for everything and make sure I knew what I was supposed to be doing.

“The pace improved through the weekend, I ran Nicky pretty close in qualy and in the race we were fighting for the positions we wanted to.

“I was a bit gutted immediately after the spin but now I’m a bit more circumspect about the whole thing.”

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