Jack Aitken, who took George Russell’s seat at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix, is staying as Williams’ reserve driver for this season.
The British-Korean racer was called up at short notice in Bahrain last December after Russell had been brought in by Mercedes to replace Sir Lewis Hamilton, who had tested positive for COVID-19.
Making his F1 race debut, Aitken finished 16th despite a spin on the final corner of the circuit in which he hit the wall and left part of his front wing on the track.
The 25-year-old joined Williams last season as reserve to Russell and Nicholas Latifi having previously spent four years affiliated to Renault as a junior and then test driver.
Both Russell and Latifi are also remaining with Williams for 2021 and so Aitken’s continued involvement means the team’s complete race driver line-up stays unchanged.
Aitken tweeted: “After providing me with one of the most special moments of my career to date last year, I’m so glad to continue with Williams Racing in my position of reserve driver. I will complement this role with other programmes to be announced shortly.”
After providing me with one of the most special moments of my career to date last year, I’m so glad to continue with @WilliamsRacing in my position of Reserve Driver. I will complement this role with other programmes, to be announced shortly (👀). With all that said, #DOTUS 🤙🏻 pic.twitter.com/5R1XkW1Rqa
— Jack Aitken – 한세용 (@JaitkenRacer) March 4, 2021
He added, quoted by Motorsport Week: “In my short time at Grove, I have already found many friends and a deep desire for success as a team.
“The professionalism and work ethic of everyone here is something that makes me wear my kit with pride and having had a taste of racing in last year’s Sakhir Grand Prix, I am fully intent on providing as much support as possible while continuing my development as a race driver.”
After his collision with the wall in Bahrain – which was fortuitously close to the pit entry lane – Aitken had 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.”
Russell looked on course to win the Sakhir Grand Prix on his Mercedes debut until a pit-stop blunder by the team and a subsequent puncture left him to finish ninth.
Williams also recently announced that reigning W Series champion Jamie Chadwick will continue her role as a development driver with the team this year.
Their 2021 challenger will be launched on Friday as they aim to fare better than 2020, when they finished bottom of the World Championship standings without scoring a point.