Aitken surprised by South Korean response to F1 debut
Williams reserve Jack Aitken says his F1 debut last month in Bahrain generated an unexpected amount of interest in South Korea, his second home country.
Born in London to a Scottish father and a South Korea mother, Aitken stepped into the limelight at Sakhir when he replaced George Russell at Williams following the Briton’s one-of stint with Mercedes.
Aitken had little to show for his efforts in the penultimate round of the F1 world championship in which he finished P16. But the 23-year-old did succeed in sparking the interest of his countrymen in South Korea.
“There was a big response – more than I expected – which was amazing because traditionally Formula 1 hasn’t been as popular in Korea,” he told the South China Morning Post.
“Interest in motorsport is still young. We do have a lot of Korean fans getting in touch and many who follow the races because of my heritage. I’ve had a lot of questions asking about how to get involved.”
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South Korea hosted a round of the F1 world championship from 2010 to 2013, but the event was not deemed a commercial success for the local promoter.
But Aitken believes he can perhaps leverage his new-found notoriety in his second home country.
“It’s well documented that motorsport is not cheap and you need to be able to be marketable,” he said. “Markets in the East are very attractive and Korea is definitely high up on that list.
“If they (manufacturers) can utilise me to make themselves more marketable, that’s a real plus.”
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