Campos Racing driver Jack Aitken claims that the current roster of drivers within Formula 1‘s feeder series is ‘massively competitive’, making it hard to predict on who will win every weekend and who will be in the title race.
The Anglo-Korean driver recorded his best ever weekend within FIA Formula 2 in Azerbaijan by winning the feature race and making a podium appearance in the sprint race. The Campos driver’s effort pushed him to second overall in the Drivers’ championship.
The series has seen three different drivers claim the top step of the podium out of the four races: Aitken, Nicholas Latifi and Luca Ghiotto. As well as the variety of winners, seven different drivers have made an appearance on the podium, including the likes of Jordan King, Nyck de Vries and rookie Juan Manuel Correa.
At the end of the 2018 season, three drivers from F2 made the jump into F1. 2018 F2 champion George Russell joined ROKiT Williams Racing, whilst runner-up and third-place drivers Lando Norris and Alexander Albon signed with McLaren F1 and Toro Rosso Honda respectfully. 2017 F2 winner Charles Leclerc made the transition from Alfa Romeo Sauber to Ferrari after his rookie season.
Having raced in F2 for over a season now, Aitken commented about how competitive the field is in F1’s junior series and how hard it is to predict who will come out on top in every race.
“The competition is quite high this year, and I think that it is really difficult to predict anything in F2 because it is so dependent on how it suits each driver’s natural style. Some will suit it much more than others, but I expect to be filling that vacuum,” said Aitken on the FIA Formula 2 website.
“Last year was a bit crazy in terms of the driver market anyway and I think in F1 there was so much change that seats were available. What it shows is that F2 is definitely doing a good enough job of preparing drivers and the competition is higher than ever.
“In the past years, maybe there was more of a spread across different series, whereas now, all of the strong guys are in F2 which I think is massively competitive.”
Thirteen of the twenty drivers on the grid have connections with Formula 1 teams ranging from third driver roles, test, development or simulator drivers.
Aitken is one of them, having been part of the Renault Sport Driver Academy since 2016 and has been promoted to the team’s test driver, graduating from the Academy program last year.
The twenty-three year old discussed how his role with the Renault F1 Team works and how this year he has more space to focus on F2.
“The biggest difference this year is that I am not part of the academy anymore – I have graduated from that as it was a three year tenure. So, I am more directly associated with the F1 team now. Compared to last year not much will change, I am still going to be attending quite a lot of the races and I will be the reserve driver when Sergey isn’t there, so I was in Australia for example.
“In the F2 events, I will be able to focus more on that side, which is better for me and this gives me a bit more space to do that, because last year was very busy.”
Aitken’s rookie season with ART Grand Prix saw highs and lows as he claimed his first win in the series in Barcelona, but followed a spell of races where he scored no points. He ended the season tenth overall whilst team-mate Russell clinched the F2 crown.
With a year under his belt and already placing a strong start with his new Campos team, Aitken feels more mature and has learned from the troubled times of last year, hoping to be standing on the top step of the podium more often in 2019.
“This year, they have told me what they have always told me, go and get some results and then maybe in six months we will start speaking about next year. It is always the same in that sense, you get the results and then you sit down and talk. For me, I am trying to focus more on F2 this year,” added Aitken.
“The expectation is pretty clear because I am into my second year. Last year was pretty tough, but now I feel more mature and have learned a few things about F2 specifically and we both expect me to be winning really.”