Anglo-Korean Renault Sport Academy driver Jack Aitken begins his debut Formula 2 campaign in Bahrain this weekend with the ART Grand Prix team.
Opened in 2004 in time for Formula 1’s first race in the Middle East, the Bahrain International Circuit is surrounded by the desert of the oil-rich island nation. That sand can often blow onto the track, reducing the grip available from the Welsh granite surface. With several long straights as well as some slow corners, the track offers quite a few overtaking opportunities. Like in F1, the F2 qualifying session in Bahrain will take place under floodlights during the evening, but the two races will be held in the heat of the early afternoon.
The championship situation
The 10 teams and 20 drivers effectively start from zero in Bahrain with a brand new car, the F2 2018. The teams first got their hands on the car with a shakedown day at Magny-Cours, before three-day tests at Paul Ricard and Bahrain. Jack lines up with ART Grand Prix, the same team with which he finished runner-up in GP3 last year.
F2 qualifying will take place at 20:00 on Friday, after a practice session at 11:30. The first race will start at 13:10 on Saturday and run for 32 laps, featuring a mandatory pit-stop. Race 2 will then be held on Sunday at 14:15 over 23 laps, with the grid decided by the results of the first race with the top eight reversed. (All times local, GMT+3)
“It’s the start of the next chapter of my career and clearly the most important one yet, after I was announced as reserve driver at the Renault Sport F1 Team earlier this year. Everything starts again: I know what I’ve got to do, and I’m determined to do it. For Formula 2 as well, it’s the beginning of a new era, with a new car and engine. So, it’s an incredibly exciting time as we head to Bahrain: a track I’m pretty familiar with after the testing we did recently. Now it’s time simply to focus, get my head down, and get the job done. I’ve got everything I need at my disposal, so there’s absolutely no reason why it can’t happen.”
Jack’s previous experience in Bahrain
Jack only got his first taste of the Bahrain track in the final pre-season test two weeks ago. There, he set the third fastest time of the whole test, and the second-best time on the second morning.
What Jack has been up to since testing
Jack has only been back to England for just over a week since the final test in Bahrain but has packed plenty in, including trying a rallycross car for size at Silverstone in a feature that will be aired on Sky Sports F1. He was also out to lunch with a wide cross-section of British media in London, updating them on the next phase of his career.
Did you know?
Bahrain is actually made up of 33 natural islands and an increasing number of man-made islands. The largest, Bahrain Island, where the Sakhir circuit is located, makes up around three-quarters of the country’s total land area. Bahrain was where oil was first discovered in the Arabian Gulf in 1931.