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Renault says Aitken deserves backing despite no GP3 title

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Renault says Aitken deserves backing despite no GP3 title
By:
Jan 31, 2018, 5:21 PM

Renault Formula 1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul says Jack Aitken deserves to continue receiving the manufacturer's backing despite missing out on the GP3 title in 2017.

Jack Aitken, ART Grand Prix
Jack Aitken, ART Grand Prix
Jack Aitken, ART Grand Prix
Jack Aitken, ART Grand Prix
Jack Aitken
Jack Aitken, ART Grand Prix
Jack Aitken, ART Grand Prix

Aitken, who completed his second year in the third-tier category last season, finished second overall with one race win, behind ART Grand Prix teammate George Russell. The pair will race together at the junior single seater team's Formula 2 outfit in 2018.

But Abiteboul explained that Aitken – who also drove a 2012 Lotus-built Renault F1 car last September as a reward for his GP3 performances in 2017 – had sufficiently impressed the French manufacturer to retain its support for a third season.

"Frankly, we are not robots so when I talk about the targets, the fact [is] that every single driver in the Academy has targets and if he hits the targets then he is promoted to the next level and we will continue to support [them]," Abiteboul told Motorsport.com at the unveiling of the 2018 class of the Renault Sport Academy.

"But we also look at the circumstances, we also look what happened [in] racing incidents – it's not a perfect science.

"So, despite the fact he had not reached the target of being champion, he deserved to continue together [with Renault] and it was in everyone's interest to continue together.

"We are also putting a little bit of emotion into the programme."

By graduating to F2 in 2018, Aitken is the highest-placed RSA member, and Abiteboul explained why Renault was keen to retain him.

"We deeply believe in Jack," he said. "He's in his third year [with the RSA], if we are not believing in Jack we would not have invested what we have invested and I'm not necessarily talking about the financial numbers.

"We think that he could even have won GP3 last year, but despite the fact he didn't we had reason to continue the journey together and we are very happy that we are doing that.

"F2 will be another year where it's going to be competitive it will be interesting to see what he is capable of doing, in particular his year one."

Aitken's E20 running at Jerez last year is an example of how Renault can use its resources to develop its young drivers.

The 22-year-old is hopeful of more F1 opportunities in 2018 but nothing has been officially confirmed at this stage.

"There will be something this year," Aitken said. "Whether it's less or more, in what car, is not yet decided. Hopefully if I deliver the results then we can have some good opportunities."

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About this article

Series FIA F2
Drivers Jack Aitken
Author Alex Kalinauckas