Jack Aitken only found out he was racing for the Williams Racing team in this weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix halfway through this week, but the Anglo-Korean racer was able to get up to pace pretty quickly on Friday.
Aitken was drafted in to replace George Russell, who was chosen by the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team after Lewis Hamilton tested positive for coronavirus. He has spent his 2020 season racing in FIA Formula 2 with Campos Racing, while he also participated in his first free practice session back at the Styrian Grand Prix.
Despite a spin in the first session, Aitken was able to get a good number of laps on the board, and tasted the FW43 in both short and long runs as he prepares himself for his first Qualifying session and first race in Formula 1.
“Today was pretty cool and I got lots of laps under my belt,” said Aitken. “We spent the first few laps in FP1 refreshing what I did during FP1 in Austria, so it was all pretty familiar, and I got up to speed quickly.
“There is some work to be done on our one lap pace, but the race form was encouraging so I am pretty happy. We built some solid foundations today, so I am looking forward to getting into qualifying.
“It will be tough tomorrow in qualifying; keeping your wits about you and being aware and hopefully we can be on the right side of things.”
“It was a different kind of day, and a different kind of track to what we are used to” – Nicholas Latifi
Team-mate Nicholas Latifi has become the unofficial team leader for this weekend, and the Canadian was able to finish an encouraging fifteenth fastest in the second session after placing eighteenth in the first.
Latifi said it was a ‘pretty hectic’ day around the outer loop of the Bahrain International Circuit, with the short track making it difficult to negotiate traffic. He says the team seem to be around the same kind of pace of their main rivals at Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN and Haas F1 Team, so it is important they continue with this kind of pace across the rest of the weekend.
“It was a different kind of day, and a different kind of track to what we are used to,” said Latifi. “It was pretty hectic out there, 20 cars sharing this short track made it difficult to focus on your own programme, get clean laps in and try to not disturb anyone else.
“We have some work to do on both low and high fuel, but we are thereabouts with our competitors Haas and Alfa, which is always the target.
“The new section is very bumpy, it will create something different for sure which I think is what F1 wanted to achieve. I hope it makes it exciting and brings opportunities that we are all hoping for. It has definitely created a challenge to set up the car, so we will try and nail that down tomorrow.”