‘Gutted’ Aitken ‘desperate to have another go’ with Williams after race-defining shunt
It was ironic that a mid-race crash for Jack Aitken led to a chain of events that saw George Russell – the driver he’d replaced at Williams for the Sakhir Grand Prix – denied his maiden victory. And after making his F1 debut, Aitken said he was keen to make amends if he’s given the chance to drive for Williams again in Abu Dhabi.
A mistake from F2 regular Aitken 25 laps from the chequered flag saw the debutant spin at the final Turn 11 corner, his FW43 hitting the barrier and wiping the car’s front wing off, with Aitken able to get back on track and dive into the pits.
The resultant Safety Car, though, would ultimately trigger a disastrous double-stack pit stop for Mercedes, leading to an error that would contribute to Williams’ usual driver George Russell – standing in for Lewis Hamilton at the Silver Arrows this weekend – being denied a shot at victory.
But speaking after the race, Aitken was more concerned about his own error in his first F1 race than the fortunes of the man he’d replaced at Williams.
“Mixed emotions… I’m a bit gutted about the mistake,” said Aitken. “I think we were doing a really good job up until my little incident. I can only apologise to the whole team. Just pushing a little bit too hard I think.
“I was quite lucky, it was similar to what we’ve seen with Alex last weekend,” added Aitken of his shunt, referencing Alex Albon’s crash in Free Practice 2 for the Bahrain Grand Prix at the same spot. “Just the dust is pretty tricky to get on top of, and like I say, I can only apologise. It was an honest mistake… the first proper mistake I’ve made all weekend, I think, just trying to push it a little bit too much to get the guys ahead of us.”
Despite blotting his copybook with the crash, which left him P16 at the chequered flag, ahead of his fellow F1 rookie Pietro Fittipaldi, Aitken said he was “desperate” to be given another chance to drive for Williams at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in a week’s time – which will likely happen should Russell once again be called on to replace Hamilton.
“I think there’s a lot of positives to take from the weekend,” said Aitken, who’d qualified within a tenth of team mate Nicholas Latifi in P17 on Saturday. “The single lap pace came on a really long way this weekend in a really short space of time, and the race pace can be right up there as well.
“I’m pretty desperate to have another go, so fingers crossed.”