Jack Aitken has endured plenty of ups and downs in his motorsport career to date, all of which have gotten the Formula 2 race winner to where he is today, but which three have played the most important role in his journey up the ladder?
We sat down with the Briton to discuss the moments that made him.
1. HIS FIRST CRASH IN SINGLE-SEATER RACING
“I am just going to go in chronological order, being the organised man that I am. The first moment was in 2012 in the Dunlop Intersteps Championship, using the old Formula BMW cars. It was my first year in cars and on my first ever race weekend, after maybe one or two test days, I got in the car for Qualifying at a track called Oulton Park - which is quite a quick circuit in the UK - and it wouldn’t start.
“Five minutes went by and the mechanics managed to get it fired up, but on my first flying lap I put it in the wall at Druids corner, which is a really, really fast right-hander. I cracked the car in half - it was quite a big shunt, no half measures.
“The reason I say that this is a moment that made me, is because it was devastating at the time, it was my first race in cars and I had destroyed the car, it couldn’t have been any worse. But, it was so bad, that I realised it could only go up from there.
“I went on and had a good race weekend. It’s weird moment to pick, but I think making your first mistake, having your first crash, is important for a driver to get over.”
2. WINNING THE FORMULA RENAULT CHAMPIONSHIP
“My second choice would be the final weekend of the Formula Renault Championship, which I won in 2015. We hadn't started the season too well, but I'd been catching the leaders all the way through. Remind Louis Delétraz because he was leading the Championship until that last race!
“It was the last round of the season and we had two wet races at Jerez and I won both, the first by around 14 seconds. That was enough to secure the Championship and it’s what got me my place on the Renault Academy programme, which was huge for me.
“Being a part of the academy taught me a lot of the skills that I have now, which I wouldn’t have if I hadn’t been a part of that academy. It opened the door to the world of F1 in a way that I hadn’t seen before, being in the paddock, the garage and going to the factory whenever I wanted.
“I don’t know what path I would have taken if it wasn't that one, but it would have been quite different, I am sure.”
3. TESTING FORMULA 1 MACHINERY
“My first year in F2 in 2018 was a really difficult season for me. Around midway through the year, I did a Pirelli tyre test with Renault in the R.S.18, which was a full day at Suzuka. I had never been there before, but that was my chance to get in the car, test, and show the team what I could do. It is probably one of the most enjoyable days I have ever had in a car.
“The car and track combination, which was ridiculously fast and scary all at once, gave me so much adrenaline. You know that if you drop a wheel on the grass, then you’re in the wall. It was just new tyres, new tyres, new tyres, every single run, pushing flat out and giving the team feedback. We did around 120 laps that day.
“The reason that I would say it’s a moment that made me, is because it came in amongst all of the stuff that was going on in F2 that year and the difficulties that I was having, getting me and the team to work well. I went and did this one-day test in an F1 car and we were able to compare the data with the previous race weekend with Carlos Sainz and Nico Hulkenberg. That showed that I had driven really well and was on the pace on my first day in the car.
“The experience was a reminder that I hadn’t become a rubbish driver overnight and that I was as good as I thought. Sometimes, you need that affirmation. Like with any sport, your career can have ups and downs and that was a really cool day, which showed what I could do.
“That whole year, I was telling myself that these were not the results I deserved and that if I kept working, it would come. It is very hard when you're an athlete in any sport and the results are telling you one thing consistently, but you're trying to hold that self-belief. That day in the Renault was a kick to tell me that I was right to think what I did - that was really important.”