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F2 racer Jack Aitken to make F1 debut with Williams at Sakhir Grand Prix, replacing Russell

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PORTIMAO, PORTUGAL - OCTOBER 25: Jack Aitken of Great Britain and Williams walks in the Paddock

Jack Aitken will make his Formula 1 race debut this weekend, stepping in at Williams for the Sakhir Grand Prix to replace George Russell, who in turn is replacing Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes after the world champion's positive Covid-19 test.

Hamilton’s absence set about a chain reaction that led to Mercedes asking Williams to borrow Russell, a Mercedes junior, to drive alongside Valtteri Bottas.

READ MORE: George Russell to replace Hamilton at Mercedes for Sakhir Grand Prix

Williams agreed, with the British team choosing to promote their reserve driver Aitken to line up next to Nicholas Latifi.

Aitken has experience of the Williams team and their engineers, having embedded himself in the outfit this year as part of his role, and crucially has experience of the FW43 after driving in FP1 at this year’s Styrian Grand Prix.

A speed date with new Williams driver Jack Aitken

The 25-year-old, a former Renault junior who finished second in the 2017 GP3 series, has dovetailed his Williams duties with a third campaign in Formula 2, this year scoring two podiums and eight other points finishes.

“I’m absolutely over the moon to have the opportunity to make my debut with Williams this coming weekend and I am extremely happy for George to have his chance too,” said Aitken,

“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, the current Constructors’ Champions.

“We are also thrilled this means we are able to give another British talent in Jack Aitken the opportunity to make his Formula One 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.”

Meanwhile, following the announcement, Aitken confirmed that he would race with the number 89 on his Williams FW43, referencing a number he used at the start of his career in karting.

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