Sakhir Grand Prix – Williams will field Jack Aitken in their car this weekend, replacing George Russell as he steps up to Mercedes in place of Lewis Hamilton.
Jack Aitken will race in George Russell’s place at Williams at Sakhir this weekend. Russell is off to Mercedes to race Lewis Hamilton’s car, as the World Champion is missing the race due to testing positive for COVID-19.
As a result, Mercedes came to Williams looking for their customer team to release Russell, who is part of Mercedes’ driver programme. Williams agreed, and will replace him with Jack Aitken for the weekend – Aitken being part of Williams’ programme and is their official reserve.
Aitken has driven the FW43 at a Grand Prix weekend this year, having taken part in FP1 at the Styrian Grand Prix. He currently races in Formula 2 with Campos, and has scored two podiums so far this year. Campos are yet to announce who will drive their car for the final round of the F2 calendar in Aitken’s place.
Aitken will become the fourth British driver to take part in a Grand Prix this year, and said he’s delighted to get his chance in Formula 1: “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!”
“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.”
Acting Team Principal Simon Roberts, who currently looks after the running of the team after the departure of Claire Williams, said Aitken was the obvious choice: “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 have been working hard to ensure that an agreement could be made with Mercedes to allow him this fantastic opportunity. George very much remains a Williams driver and we look forward to him returning to us fresh from this experience and wish him a successful race this weekend.
“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 Aitken 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.”
Aitken won’t be the only race debutant this weekend. With Romain Grosjean sitting out this weekend as he recovers from his crash in the Bahrain Grand Prix, Haas have put young Brazilian racer Pietro Fittipaldi in his car to stand in for the Sakhir round.
— Williams Racing (@WilliamsRacing) December 2, 2020