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George Russell

Forgotten Russell stand-in to take F1 experience 'to the grave'

Jack Aitken only ever got one chance in F1 at the Sakhir Grand Prix of 2020 and has now firmly closed the door on Grand Prix racing after more chances were not forthcoming.

Jack Aitken
To news overview © XPBimages

The few days between the 2020 Bahrain and Sakhir Grands Prix was an unusually busy one in terms of Formula 1 news.

Firstly, there was the fallout of Romain Grosjean's fiery first lap accident with an investigation being launched by the FIA into just how the Haas had become engulfed with fire with Pietro Fittipaldi drafted in Grosjean's replacement.

Then later on the Monday, Mercedes announced that Lewis Hamilton had tested positive for COVID-19, the day after winning the race, and as such would miss the Sakhir event, due to be held on Bahrain's outer layout.

It remains the only Grand Prix Hamilton has missed since his debut in 2007, with Williams racer George Russell drafted in as his replacement - with the musical chairs allowing Williams reserve Jack Aitken a chance to make his F1 race debut.

Aitken had already taken part in practice sessions for the team, and performed solidly throughout the weekend, qualifying less than a tenth behind team-mate Nicholas Latifi.

During the race, Aitken would spin on the pit-straight, destroying his front-wing and triggering a Safety Car - the very same one where Mercedes would pit and put Valtteri Bottas's tyres on Russell's car, denting the chances of a fairytale win.

To the grave

The 16th place finish was as good as it would get for Aitken in F1 - departing Williams after the 2022 season for a new full-time career in sportscar racing.

But the British-Korean driver holds no sour grapes at not getting another chance in F1.

"At the time I was massively frustrated with my experience because it looked like I might get a second Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi, because Lewis was still not sure if he'd be recovered in time," Aitken told The Race.

"I didn't get that, the one race I did [have], I had the accident and that really frustrated me as a driver.

"With the benefit of time and hindsight, I look back and I was like: 'Actually, all the other stuff that I did, whether it was in practice, in qualifying, the rest of the race, I did as good a job as I could have done'.

"That memory of being part of the 20 drivers in the world that get to do that, even if it's just once, that's something I can take to... take to my grave, basically, and be happy that I did that."

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

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