Injured Aitken eyes Williams F1 sim and racing return next month

Jack Aitken hopes to be back in the Williams Formula 1 simulator and racing in the GT World Challenge next month as his recovery continues from his recent Spa crash.

Injured Aitken eyes Williams F1 sim and racing return next month
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The Williams F1 reserve driver suffered fractures to his collarbone and vertebra in a multi-car accident at the recent Spa 24 Hours round of the GT World Challenge Endurance Cup.

Speaking for the first time at length since the high-speed crash, when his stricken Emil Frey Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo was hit by other cars at the top of Eau Rouge, Aitken said that he was progressing well.

And he hopes that surgery on his collarbone next week will mark an important step on getting him back in to the racing cockpit as soon as possible.

“I'm feeling pretty good,” he told Motorsport.com. “To be honest, good enough that occasionally I forget that I've broken a couple of things and I get up too quickly!

“I've been to see a couple of specialists, both for the fracture in my back and for my collarbone. So I’m getting a bit more information about all of that, and it's actually been quite helpful.

“Sitting around all day wondering when I'm going to be better is pretty painful in itself. But not too bad.”

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Aitken said the defining factor for when he could return was his back, which needed as much rest as possible. He is currently having to wear a brace to help on that front.

However, he reckoned he should be in shape to get back in the Williams simulator next month to help continue the important development work he does for the Grove-based team.

And while the next two GT World Challenge rounds at Brands Hatch (August 28-29) and Nurburgring (September 3-5) were probably too soon for him, it was more realistic to target the Valencia event, the finale of the Sprint Cup leg of the calendar, on September 25-26.

A full recovery by then would also ensure he can finalise when he will make his final FP1 appearance of the season for Williams in F1.

“I'm looking to get back in quickly, rather than whether I can get back in this season at all,” he said.

“There's a couple of races on the GT calendar, which come up at the end of the shutdown, which I think are going to be really difficult for me to make. So I will probably miss those. But I'm hoping to be back racing by the end of September.

“Williams have already been asking when I can get back in the sim, because there was quite a lot of good work I was doing and unfortunately, it's been interrupted. I've said I'm looking to get back sometime in September.

“And then, I'm still talking to them about when we'll do my FP1. Depending on how the calendar shakes out, it's probably going to be in flyaway races coming at the end of the year. So I definitely want to be fit for that, and ready to jump in obviously if I'm needed [as a reserve].”

#114 Emil Frey Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo: Arthur Rougier, Konsta Lappalainen, Jack Aitken

#114 Emil Frey Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo: Arthur Rougier, Konsta Lappalainen, Jack Aitken

Photo by: SRO

Crash memories

Aitken says he has a full recollection of the accident as he maintained consciousness throughout, despite his car taking two sizeable impacts.

“I do remember everything because I got away without hitting my head on anything, which was quite amazing,” he explained. “I just had a bit of a bit of a dizzy moment after the crash.

“The marshals got to me very quickly, which is great. And as soon as I said that I had some pain in my back, they knew what to do with the extraction.

“I remember one of them was basically shouting at me to stay awake. I didn't have much option, but I was feeling a bit drowsy at one point. They took amazing care of me.”

Asked how he felt in those moments when his car was stranded in the middle of the track, and whether or not he had time to think, Aitken said that he could pick each element of the accident.

“I wouldn't describe it as time slowing down, but certainly when I look back and think about the crash now, it's very easy to pick out what was going on in each second,” he explained.

“In the moment, it did happen very quickly. From realising that I had a snap in the middle of Eau Rouge, correcting it, realising it had over-corrected and then realising that you are about to hit a barrier very hard, pretty much head on.

“Then I hit the barrier, had the pain already in my back and before that had processed, Franck [Perera], in the car behind hit me from the back.

“And then there was a couple of other hits with Kevin [Estre] and Davide [Rigon]. That hit me into the barrier, and all of that happened very, very quickly.

“You're just kind of hyper aware of what's happening with all the debris flying. You know you're at the top of Eau Rouge, you know you've got a lot of cars coming towards you and you are just kind of praying that it's going to put you off the circuit rather than in the middle. And you hope that it's going to stop some time soon.

“When the dust settled, and I saw that there was basically nothing left of the car, but I was off the track and the other cars had started to slow down, I was finally able to relax a little bit despite the damage it done to me.”

Jack Aitken driving the Williams FW43 in Abu Dhabi

Jack Aitken driving the Williams FW43 in Abu Dhabi

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

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