Jack Aitken was delighted to take his second FIA Formula 2 victory, and his first Feature race triumph, in Saturday’s opening race at the Baku City Circuit.
The win also gave his team Campos Racing their first win since the championship became Formula 2, with the Anglo-Korean driver fighting through from eighth on the grid to pass early race leader Nyck de Vries and maintain that advantage despite the introduction of the safety car and an aborted restart.
De Vries had made a good start from second to lead into turn one and had pulled out more than a six-second advantage ahead of his mandatory pit stop, which he and Aitken both took at the earliest opportunity at the end of lap six.
De Vries suffered a slow stop and Aitken was on his tail as they exited the pit lane, and with the aid of the Drag Reduction System, the Campos Racing driver found a way ahead down the back straight to take the position he would not lose again.
“I had my first big result in F2 here this time last year and that was hard work as well, so Baku is just a bit of a funny track for me,” said Aitken in the post-race press conference. “I got a good start and then obviously for the latter half of the race I had Nyck behind me pretty much the whole way and I was just making sure I kept that gap on DRS.
“It is quite hard to tell to be honest, because here especially with it being a street circuit, it’s very hard to keep the breaks and tyres up to temp, so I think everyone is a bit edgy going into those restarts and I didn’t want to have a silly mistake or anything like that.
“In the end, it looked like on cold tyres we were actually really quick, because that is when I overtook Nyck and then on the restarts we just pulled away.”
Aitken will start Sunday’s Sprint race from down in eighth but expects it to be difficult to replicate the likes of current Formula 1 racers Antonio Giovinazzi and Charles Leclerc by racing to the front of the field, although he feels both he and de Vries may have a slight pace advantage on the drivers who will start ahead of him.
“I think that unfortunately a lot of it is down to luck,” admits Aitken. “I think that we have got the pace to do it and me and Nyck were both very quick today, and maybe we had the slight edge.
“It can be so crazy in the midfield area, so if I get a clean start, maybe, but it is really hard to say.”
His team principal, Adrian Campos, was delighted to be able to stand on the podium alongside his driver, and he feels Aitken can be a genuine contender for the championship in 2019.
“We are very happy about Jack‘s victory!” said Campos. “He personally and the whole team deserve it!
“This result makes him and the team a strong contender to fight for the Championship!“