Jack Aitken, Renault, Circuit de Catalunya

Aitken to make F1 practice debut for Williams in 2020

2020 F1 season

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Former Renault junior driver Jack Aitken has joined Williams as their official reserve for the 2020 F1 season.

The 24-year-old will drive in one Friday practice session for the team this year. He will also work on their simulator programme and attend every race in case the team needs a replacement for regular drivers George Russell or Nicholas Latifi.

“Williams is a team with strong heritage, and continued longevity, and I’m looking forward to directly contributing to their development through my simulator and testing work,” said Aitken.

Aitken joins Williams’ growing roster of young talents including official test driver Roy Nissany, who will make three practice session appearances this year, and development drivers Dan Ticktum, formerly of Red Bull’s Junior Team, and Jamie Chadwick.

“It is obvious from what Jack has achieved so far he is a young driver with a great career ahead of him,” said deputy team principal Claire Williams, “and we believe he has the right credentials to reach the top in the sport. Jack has proved his ability in FIA Formula 2 and GP3 and we look forward to seeing what he can achieve as the team’s official reserve driver.”

Aitken finished fifth in Formula 2 last year, scoring three victories, and won two Formula Renault 2.0 titles in 2015.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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21 comments on “Aitken to make F1 practice debut for Williams in 2020”

  1. How about Jamie Chadwick, haha.

  2. Aitken. Nissany. Chadwick. A few more and they could start a separate support series with all these guys driving Williamses.

  3. hahaha formula Williams, they might win some points in that series!! they could do with a solid reliable experienced test driver to help progress the car.

  4. This could be another “Giedo” case, i hope doesn’t evolve into that. Still don’t get why he quit from Renault F1 Team (they are on the leave?) to sign for Williams (maybe they are cheap? do they have something decent at their hands for this or next year?).

    1. He got a promise of actually driving the car during several F1 weekends @jpvalverde85, I’d say that was the lure.

      1. If he was told he’d be driving “several F1 weekends” then it sounds like he’s been given a raw deal with just one Friday Final Practice session to drive in. Mind you, he does get to drive their simulator, although that might get a bit tedious at times, and it doesn’t fulfil what he was told. If he was told “several” then that’s what Williams should do, e.g. 3 test sessions in their car at three Grands Prix. I hope the pay is reasonable (and the test sessions at no cost).

        1. Definitely not free. “Test and Reserve Driver” is just the first step on the pay-driver ladder.

  5. Weird. He essentially left Renault only to join Williams. He would’ve been better off continuing with the former unless he knows something we don’t, for example, that he wouldn’t get any practice-running there, and, therefore, started to look elsewhere for a similar role.

    1. @jerejj – agreed, I too think it’s more of access to an F1 seat (in any form), plus his confidence that he can measure up and prove himself against Ticktum, Chadwick and Nissany to be the top dog of that pack.

      Well done to Claire for signing these youngsters. With the straits that Williams find themselves in, it might not be the easiest sell. Also, having a roster of drivers like this might serve as an asset for the future (at the very least, in releasing them from a contract, if another team comes looking).

      1. GtisBetter (@)
        4th February 2020, 15:41

        He is a reserve driver. The others are not allowed to drive in a race as they don’t have all the points and I doubt they will ever get enough. So it’s not even a competition.

        1. @passingisoverrated – I meant proving himself against the rest in their free practice outings, not in an actual race weekend. Or are only Aitken and Nissany the ones doing FP sessions, and are Chadwick/Ticktum not getting an FP outing?

          1. GtisBetter (@)
            4th February 2020, 19:03

            You need 25 points or 6 races experience in F2 to drive free practise, so that means Chadwick is not allowed. Nissany and ticktum have bought FP time, but i doubt they will drive the same time as Aitken. So it is going to be hard to compare him. Nissany isn’t considered a good driver, ticktum will most like be judged on his F2 skills. With Dams next year he has a car to go for wins.

          2. @passingisoverrated – thanks for that added context!

    2. @jerejj I’m moving away from here in terms of discussion. Look at the comments above yours to find out why. However, I’ll miss some interesting comments from passionate people writing on this site, one is you: do you follow any other discussion forum? /r/formula1 maybe?

      1. @m-bagattini As far as specific discussion forums go, mainly only Reddit. Other than that, it’s predominantly Motorsport.com for the same purpose as this site.

        1. Thanks, think I found you @jerejj

          @phylyp are you on /r/formula1 too?

    3. My guess is that F1 is pretty unlikely for him, he doesn’t have many options and is trying a final roll of the dice to get into F1. If he felt like another driver was favoured within the Renault junior team, maybe he didn’t have much to lose by switching to Williams?

    4. @jerejj @phylyp Racer is reporting that Aitken would have needed to bring funding to stay on at Renault, while Williams was willing to take him without backing.

      If you take that at face value, the implication that Aitken has no/i> funding is a bit surprising to me. I know he’s an academy driver, but he’s been around for a while—seems securing some personal backing would have been only prudent. And given his heritage, I would think Korea would be a strong possibility.

      1. Welp, I made a mess of that comment… Failed to thread it properly, on top of the HTML error!

      2. @markzastrow – Thank you for that information, and that link. To me, what’s more surprising is which team wanted him to bring funding, and which team was fine with him coming in with empty pockets! That is very cool of Williams to do so.

        Given he’s been around some years, you’re probably right that by now he should have had some corporate willing to put themselves behind him. One wonders if whether the Korean GP was still on the F1 calendar then he might’ve found it easier to secure some sponsorship.

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