Aitken calls time on Williams F1 reserve role

Jack Aitken (GBR) / (KOR) Williams Racing Reserve Driver. 10.12.2021. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 22, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, Practice
© XPB 

British driver Jack Aitken has confirmed that he is no longer working with the Williams F1 team as their reserve driver, after three years in the role.

Originally a graduate of the Renault Drivers Academy, Aitken deputised for George Russell at Williams in the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix when Russell was called up to replace an unwell Lewis Hamilton.

But the 27-year-old has not had any further opportunities to take part in a Grand Prix since then, and in 2021 he signalled he was switching his focus from single seaters to endurance sportscars.

This weekend ahead of his debut in the Daytona 24 Hours he told that he was cutting his final ties with F1.

"We’ve mutually decided to part ways," Aitken confirmed. "I kept an involvement last year, which was great.

"My calendar is too busy these days. I want to focus on my racing programme and on where my career is going, which is in sportscar racing.

"I really like the [Williams] team and I’m based half-an-hour away from the factory, so it was very convenient to do simulator work and I was happy to help and attend some races.

"They’ve been very supportive of that," he added. "Equally they’ve got younger guys coming through their academy and they want to give them seat time and time in the sim. It just made sense."

Jack Aitken (GBR) / (KOR) Williams Racing FW43B. 10.12.2021. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 22, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, Practice

Aitken missed out on a full time race seat when Russell departed the team for a promotion to Mercedes in 2022 and was replaced by former Red Bull driver Alex Albon.

This year, Nicholas Latifi's vacant seat will be taken by American rookie Logan Sargeant, who took as many free practice sessions as possible in 2022 in pursuit of the superlicence points he required.

Aitken isn't feeling left out by how things have gone. "[A spot in F1] is a great thing to chase, and I had a great time doing it," he said. "I was one of the lucky few not just to start a race but just to drive the cars.

"Of course that wasn’t what I was there for, I was there to try and be on the grid full-time and become champion. But for whatever reason, with the way my single-seater career went it didn’t work out. And that’s fine.

"I’m very happy chasing something in sportscars now," he added. "I’m lucky that I can ride that wave, and I’m excited to see how far I can take it."

Aitken is partnered with Pipo Derani and Alexander Sims in the AXR Cadillac V-LMDh for this weekend's race, his debut in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

"I have two very experienced teammates - especially in Pipo’s case - so it’s been quite easy for me," he said. "They’ve taken me in and been very welcoming.

"It’s a slightly different culture to what I’m used to in Europe," he admitted. "But I’m really enjoying it and I’m looking forward to seeing this style of racing. Everyone has told me what a good series IMSA is to be involved in."

As well as this weekend's event, Aitken will be AXR's third driver for the four races comprising the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup. He's also working on race outings in Europe, with the Le Mans 24 Hours a possibility.

Keep up to date with all the F1 news via Facebook and Twitter