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F1 2022

Aitken exclusive: Maybe it's a good thing I didn't have to fight Verstappen!

Jack Aitken has so far competed in one Formula 1 race after standing in for George Russell – who had in turn deputised for an unwell Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes – at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix. Since then, Aitken has continued in his role as a reserve driver for Williams and, ahead of the British Grand Prix, spoke exclusively to RacingNews365.com about his current thoughts on F1.

Aitken Abu Dhabi 2020
Interview
To news overview © XPB Images

Jack Aitken has a busy schedule; as well as spending a lot of time at the Williams factory in his role as a reserve driver, the British-South Korean driver has also been competing in GT and endurance racing since 2021.

This year, the 26-year-old will be competing in the European Le Mans Series and the ADAC GT Masters. The latter race class recently came to Zandvoort, where Aitken spoke exclusively to RacingNews365.com.

Aitken has so far competed in one Formula 1 race, when he stood in for George Russell at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix while Russell filled in for Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes, with the seven-time World Champion having tested positive for coronavirus.

The cars have changed a great deal since then, with new technical regulations introduced in 2022 transforming the look and feel of this year's challengers. What does Aitken make of the new era? His thoughts are positive, but he can see one area for improvement.

"I have no issue with the cars now," Aitken explained.

"The cars are amazing to drive from my point of view, because the downforce is incredible and the hybrid engines are also amazing with the power they deliver.

"My main issue is I think the cars are still too heavy, but it's a very hard problem to solve because, with the hybrid engines and the safety that is developed around the monocoque now, you need a lot of carbon fibre to make the car strong.

"It's not an easy problem to solve, so I think they're doing a good job with what they can."

			© Williams
	© Williams

Aitken enjoys F1 to the full

Despite being Williams' reserve driver, Aitken is rarely present at F1 Grand Prix weekends. However, this is something that allows him to enjoy the sport as a spectator.

Aitken has praised the championship battle between Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc that has played out so far as "mega".

"I'm watching the season like everybody," the driver said.

"It looks like Ferrari is doing the same trend like they do always, which is they come with a strong car, and then they are not able to maintain the momentum. I really hope that they can fix their problems, because to see the fight between Charles and Max is mega.

"So far, every time they were fighting on track was really good. But, in my head, I think Red Bull will be the ones pushing ahead."

Aitken believes that Mercedes can join the fight, but he does not see the Silver Arrows being consistently at the front again until next year.

"For sure, at some point, Mercedes will join the fight," he added.

"It's just a question of how long it will take. We see some signs that already they are fixing the problems. But I think maybe until next year with a new car, they cannot be 100 per cent in the fight."

			© XPB Images
	© XPB Images

Verstappen's "mega" form has impressed Aitken

Aitken will not be present at the forthcoming British Grand Prix due to his busy schedule. However, if he had to pick a favourite for the race, it would be Verstappen.

"I will be in Monza for the ELMS [European Le Mans Series], otherwise, for sure, I would have gone," Aitken said.

"All my friends will be there. It's a shame. But yeah, I expect Max to be strong.

"[His form is] mega. The thing with Max is, even though he is still very young, he's now been in F1 for such a long time already.

"I'm enjoying the season like everybody else now. I can step back a little bit."

Aitken has never raced alongside Verstappen, barring the 2020 Sakhir GP. It almost happened once, but the Williams man jokes that maybe it was better not to.

"Just before I won the Formula Renault championship in 2015, he was also doing some testing in Formula Renault and Formula 3 at the same time," Aitken explained.

"And of course he was quick. I really wanted him to do the Formula Renault championship so I could fight with him. In the end, they chose to do Formula 3.

"Maybe it's a good thing that he didn't fight me! For sure, he's super talented, and the way that Jos was managing his career when he was younger was really strong."

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