Jack Aitken declared he has been “ready since Melbourne” for his F1 chance after being given a race opportunity with Williams in the Sakhir Grand Prix.
The 25-year-old London-born driver will take over from George Russell, who is moving to Mercedes for the penultimate round of the 2020 World Championship to stand in for Lewis Hamilton following his positive COVID-19 test.
It will be a Formula 1 race debut for Aitken, who is Williams’ reserve driver but no stranger to the FW43 having taken part in FP1 for the Styrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring, Austria, in July.
Aitken has this year been competing in Formula 2 and achieved two podium finishes for the Campos Racing team.
He will be unable to complete that campaign, which concludes in Bahrain this weekend, but is down in 14th position in the drivers’ standings and now has a bigger fish to fry.
It’s a chance for which Aitken has been waiting patiently ever since he first became Williams’ reserve driver for the Australian Grand Prix in March, which was cancelled after a McLaren staff member tested positive for the coronavirus.
I can’t believe this, but… I will make my F1 debut with @WilliamsRacing this weekend. Huge thank you to them, and obviously my best wishes to Lewis, and George making the step into the Merc. #YOTUS baby. pic.twitter.com/fWXRSFCNmx
— Jack Aitken – 한세용 (@JaitkenRacer) December 2, 2020
“I’m absolutely over the moon to have the opportunity to make my debut with Williams this coming weekend and I’m extremely happy for George to have his chance too,” said Aitken, who is of British-Korean nationality.
“I really mean it when I say I’ve felt very much at home here since I joined Williams earlier this year, so to get my chance to help the team try to achieve that elusive points finish is an extremely satisfying occasion to say the least.
“I’ll be doing all I can to prepare in the coming days but truthfully, I feel like I have been ready since Melbourne.
“I also want to wish Lewis well in his recovery, and good luck to George getting the chance to drive the Mercedes this weekend.”
Williams’ acting team principal Simon Roberts added: “Our long-term partnership and George’s affiliation with Mercedes is no secret, and so I’m delighted George has this unique opportunity to join Mercedes.
“We are also thrilled this means we are able to give another British talent in Jack Aitken the opportunity to make his Formula 1 race debut.
“Jack joined Williams at the start of this season and despite COVID-19 restrictions meaning we haven’t been able to interact with him as much as we would like, he has quickly become a much-liked member of the team.
“We look forward to seeing him build on his previous experience driving the car in practice, to see what he can do in a qualifying and race situation.”