Jack Aitken hopes a strong FIA Formula 2 season can put him in prime position to replace Carlos Sainz Jr. in the Renault Sport Formula One Team in 2019, should the Spaniard be recalled by his parent Aston Martin Red Bull Racing team.
The Anglo-Korean ace is third and reserve driver for the Enstone-based team in 2018 and is the longest-serving member of the Renault Sport Academy, and after impressing in the GP3 Series with ART Grand Prix last year, he makes the step up into Formula 1’s primary feeder series this season with the same outfit.
With Daniel Ricciardo’s current contract with Red Bull set to end at the end of this season and his contract extension discussions yet to get underway, Sainz is the primary candidate to replace him, and Aitken knows an impressive Formula 2 campaign can put him in a good position to join the Formula 1 grid next year.
“It is a realistic proposition, even if Renault don’t say so!” Aitken is quoted as saying by RACER. “I need to make it a realistic proposition. It’s completely up to my results and if Carlos leaves then they’ve given me the opportunity to prove that I’m worth it and that’s by doing well in F2.
“Doing well in F2… It’s very hard to put a number on it. They haven’t given me a number where they say ‘You need to be in the top whatever.’ They know what the level is and where I should be and they’re kind of going to review that. For me, that means I want to be winning races, at the top, going well and beating the other rookies, going along those lines.
“It’s quite a high bar but we’re talking about an F1 seat so it needs to be.”
Although Aitken has yet to drive the current R.S.18 car, he is hopeful that as the reserve driver he will get an opportunity at some point during the 2018 season, particularly in the tests that follow the Spanish and Hungarian Grand Prix.
“I’m ready technically. I haven’t driven the car yet other than in the sim so hopefully I’ll get a taste of it sometimes soon, either after Barcelona or Budapest,” said Aitken.
“In F2 I need to do well because there’s no reason why I shouldn’t if things aren’t going against me too much. Equally with the F1 tests they’re obviously looking to see how you do, so it’s important as well and it’s hard to choose between the two. At the end of the day if you’re really good in one and awful in the other it’s going to be difficult. You need to do well in both.”