Jack Aitken admits he will be disappointed if he doesn’t get another chance to race in Formula 1in this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, as he awaits confirmation of Lewis Hamilton’s status.
Hamilton missed the last race in Bahrain due to testing positive for COVID-19, with George Russell racing for Mercedes and Aitken stepping in at Williams. If Hamilton is unable to race, the same line-ups will remain, but if the world champion is cleared to return then Russell will be back with Williams and Aitken will be forced to step aside.
“I think it’s up to Mercedes and obviously Lewis’ recovery,” Aitken said. “I’m just waiting for confirmation either way. Obviously I’d love to be back in the car because I’ve made some big steps — this weekend would be even stronger. But I just have to wait and see what the confirmation will be.
“It’s not too weird, I’ll be a bit disappointed if I don’t get to drive after getting all hyped up and prepped for it, but equally there’s no reason not to prepare, I should be as prepared as I possibly can be. I’m using today, yesterday and all the time I have to make sure I’m ready. If I get the nod, we’ll be in a good position.”
Aitken performed strongly on debut before spinning late in the race and breaking his front wing, something he says overshadowed his own efforts for a number of days.
“Immediately after I got out of the car on Sunday I was a little bit frustrated with myself because of the spin I had. But actually, having had time to digest everything and move on, it was a pretty solid weekend. The pace came on a really long way from Friday. There wasn’t a lot of notice to get ready and sort everything out so, I think I can be happy with how the weekend went as a whole. Having done everything once, if I have to do it again, I’ll be even better I reckon.”
Aitken admits it was a big learning process adapting to an F1 car when he should have been racing in Formula 2 last weekend, explaining the areas in which he feels he’ll make progress if he gets another outing.
“I was referring mainly to being used to driving the Formula 2 car this year, even though I did the FP1 in Austria earlier this year. Formula 1 cars nowadays are such complex machines and on the whole, that means they’re easier to drive because that means there’s a lot of systems working in the background to make the car better. It does mean that some things that are traditional in a normal single-seater don’t really apply to F1 cars now.
“For example, in qualifying I lost a decent amount of time on my best lap because — can you see, I’m becoming a proper F1 driver already, here are the excuses — because when you overshoot a corner, my natural instinct is to shift down more to get my engine braking to pull the car in. That doesn’t apply to these cars necessarily all the time. Sometimes the better thing to do is to hold a higher gear and you’ll get more rotation that way.
“So little things like that, that are quirks to F1 cars that I haven’t encountered before. It’s just a case of banking that knowledge and next time I won’t make that mistake.”