Following his maiden pole and race victory in the 2014 Formula Renault Eurocup 2.0 at the Hungaroring earlier this month, 19 year old British racing driver Jack Aitken endured a frustrating weekend on his first visit to the Circuit Paul Ricard, Castellet, France.
Round six of Eurocup 2.0 commenced as always with Friday practice. For his maiden outing on the tricky track, BRDC Rising Star Jack found good pace in his #8 Fortec Motorsports FR2.0/13 Tatuus, and was confident going into the first round of qualifying.
The 27-car field was split in to the two usual groups for qualifying ahead of both Eurocup races. In Group B on Saturday morning, Jack was able to set a few initial quick laps before unfortunately being hampered by traffic when the track and tyres came to their peak. As a result, he set the seventh fastest time in his group, but slipped to P14 after all qualifying times were combined to line up on the seventh row of the grid for the start of race one.
A mid-pack grid position was always going to be a challenge and Jack had a difficult start to the race, running wide to avoid an incident at the front of the field, which subsequently meant his cutting across the first chicane. He was handed a 10-second penalty for his evasive actions and, after running as high as ninth position for the middle stint of the 13-lap race, Jack ultimately finished in a disappointing P21 due to the penalty at the chequered flag.
In the second qualifying session on Sunday morning, Jack and his Daventry-based Fortec team were able to run some relatively clear laps and put in a quickest time of 2:03.965, seventh fastest of Group B. With less than a second between the top fourteen driver times when both sessions had been combined, Jack’s qualifying time should have seen him line up in P14, however he received a five-place grid penalty following the first race, resulting in a P19 start for race two in the afternoon.
Once again an exciting yet eventful start to the final Formula Renault Eurocup 2.0 race of the weekend meant that Jack had to show his mettle and skilfully manoeuvre around incidents that occurred ahead of him. Now up in to P14 on the difficult technical track, Jack was only able to make up a couple more places with limited room for overtaking once the pack had settled down, concluding a trying weekend for the London-born driver.
Jack Aitken, #8 Fortec Motorsports:“It was my first time at Paul Ricard, so I was at a disadvantage going in to this weekend. Our pace was relatively good, but a combination of traffic, incidents and penalties has resulted in a very disappointing end result for me, especially after such a positive weekend with the pole and win in Hungary. The top twenty drivers in this Eurocup round were very close in times too, so overall it is a weekend to learn from and move on to the season finale in Jerez next month.”