Jack Aitken says he is “over the moon” after being handed his Formula 1 debut for the Sakhir Grand Prix weekend, insisting he has been ready to make the step for some time.
Aitken will replace George Russell for the upcoming race in Bahrain, with the latter being drafted to front runners Mercedes after seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton returned a positive Covid-19 test.
Williams signed Aitken as its reserve driver for the 2020 season, with the 25-year-old making his FP1 debut at the Styrian Grand Prix earlier this year.
Aitken says he has been ready to race for Williams since Melbourne in March, before the regular season was not interrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I’m absolutely over the moon to have the opportunity to make my debut with Williams this coming weekend and I am extremely happy for George to have his chance too,” Aitken said.
“I really mean it when I say I’ve felt very much at home here since I joined Williams earlier this year, so to get my chance to help the team try to achieve that elusive points finish is an extremely satisfying occasion to say the least.
“I’ll be doing all I can to prepare in the coming days, but truthfully, I feel like I have been ready since Melbourne.
“I also want to wish Lewis well in his recovery, and good luck to George getting the chance to drive the Mercedes this weekend.”
Aitken is set to be relieved of his Formula 2 duties with Campos for the weekend, as a regulation prevents a driver from racing in both F2 and F1 at the same event.
In what has been a challenging F2 campaign for Aitken, the London-born driver has managed to score two podiums, with both coming at his home event at Silverstone.
Williams’ Acting Team Principal Simon Roberts added: “We are also thrilled this means we are able to give another British talent in Jack Aitken the opportunity to make his Formula One race debut.
“Jack joined Williams at the start of this season, and despite Covid-19 restrictions meaning we haven’t been able to interact with him as much as we would like, he has quickly become a much-liked member of the team.
“We look forward to seeing him build on his previous experience driving the car in practice, to see what he can do in a qualifying and race situation.”