Aitken hoping race opportunity will follow ECR IndyCar test

Jack Aitken admits he is excited to finally get to try an IndyCar for himself at Sebring on Monday and says his test in the No. 20 Chevrolet comes with a race seat at Ed Carpenter Racing in mind.

The Formula 2 race winner — who made his F1 debut for Williams in Bahrain last year — will get a first test for Carpenter after some time looking at IndyCar opportunities, as he joins Stoffel Vandoorne (Arrow McLaren SP) Nyck de Vries (Meyer Shank) and Callum Ilott (Juncos Hollinger) at Monday’s test. Aitken has seen Ilott and fellow F2 driver Christian Lundgaard impress and earn race seats in the IndyCar Series this year, and he told RACER he is looking forward to getting his own chance to show what he can do.

“The test came about because I met Ed recently and met the team a few years ago now,” Aitken said. “We were looking at IndyCar as a possibility — at that time nothing came of it but it was quite nice to meet people and talk about things. Ed was quite receptive at the time and understanding of our situation and helpful, so we stayed in touch.

“The opportunity came about because the No. 20 car will need a driver for part of the season next year and we’d really love to make something work, so part of that is doing this evaluation to see how we get on. I think we’re both really excited — both the team and I — to see how it goes.

“I’m most looking forward to just trying the IndyCar. I’ve seen them from afar quite a lot now and have spoken to some of the guys who have driven them and they all say it’s a bit of a beast but a lot of fun. It’s pretty physical, the tracks out here are quite a different style as well to what we have in Europe and the GP circuits, and I’m quite looking forward to that side of it.

“Sebring is notorious for its bumps and just being pretty difficult to handle in general. We’re missing out some of the circuit — we’re doing a shorter northern loop — but it will still be a lot of fun and just nice to get to grips with the new car.”

Aitken views IndyCar as a “beefed up” version of the Formula 2 car he is used to. Mark Sutton/Motorsport Images

It will be a proper test in every sense of the word for Aitken, who has only recently recovered from a fractured vertebra sustained in a huge crash in the Spa 24 Hours, but he’s looking forward to the physical challenge as well as the technical one.

“It’s going to be something that’s almost like a beefed-up Formula 2 car without the power steering, but with some of the sophistication of F1 blended in as well, so it should be cool. Talking to the team, it’s a professional setup and there’s a lot of work that goes into these, especially with it being a mix of spec parts and some that are free for development, so I’m really excited.”

While it’s an evaluation test, Aitken — who has previously tasted U.S. racing success in the Pro Mazda series — says he heads into the session with a future with ECR very much at the forefront of his thoughts.

“We are talking about putting something together. It’s still early days. Ed’s been very kind in giving me the opportunity to test and letting me see how we go. We’re both keen to do something for next year but we really need to figure out which races it would be and what the commercial aspect would be like as well. It’s always going to be a part of these talks, but definitely interested to do it and fingers crossed we can get something together.”