Aspiring open-wheel driver Jack Aitken delivers scathing critique of new FIA points system


If you’re not that well-known in the grand scheme of the motorsports arena, one way you can stand out is by making your mark on social media.

Another way to do so is to offer a scathing critique of something, especially if the take is on point and well-reasoned.

Both of the above points brings us to Jack Aitken, a 19-year-old half English, half South Korean open-wheel prospect, who may have offered the most damning critique of the day on the new points system needed to earn an F1 Superlicense as outlined by the FIA.

Aitken raced this year in the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 series, where he finished seventh in the 30-driver field and top ranked British driver. He also finished ninth and fourth in a one weekend, two race cameo driving for Team Pelfrey’s Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires team in that series finale at Sonoma in August, on his debut weekend in the series.

So that’s who he is, and here’s what he posted on Twitter on Tuesday:

If you can’t read the small print in full, here’s the full transcript beyond the immediate boom of the FIA/FIFA conspiracy comparison as the tweet intro:

The FIA want us to believe a champion of WSR 3.5 is simply not qualified for F1, whereas the champion of F3, with less than half the power is. Right. As for the Renault 2.0 series, the champion of the Eurocup series is awarded all of 5 of the necessary 40 points, whereas National F4 championships award double that. Not only is the Eurocup widely accepted as an extremely competitive training ground for F1, it is definitely not half as useful preparation for F1 as a championship with cars nearly 7 seconds a lap slower than it. As if this wasn’t enough of a statement of intent, they have reserved the most points for a ‘Future FIA F2’ series, of which there are no real plans whatsoever at the moment. Button, Raikkonen, Ricciardo, Schumacher? Wouldn’t qualify. How much further will the FIA go to stamp out rival series to pave the way for their own? They should be focusing on solving the real problems of motorsport, rather than shamelessly promoting themselves.

It’s quite a bold statement to make, considering that as an up-and-coming driver Aitken doesn’t necessarily carry the clout of say, a World Series by Renault or Japanese Super Formula driver who is more established and would have more of a legitimate gripe over the system as outlined, if he or she wasn’t eligible for a Superlicense.

However, consider nearly all the points in this rant are well-reasoned, were picked up throughout the day by drivers and individuals who do carry a certain amount of clout, and you understand that Aitken almost has nothing to lose by saying what he did.

This is an important statement, and it will be interesting to see where Aitken’s career goes on his own and whether he might face any repercussions for his personal taking the FIA to task.

Oliver Askew: ‘I was starting to lose confidence’ after ‘hardest hit I’ve had’

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Oliver Askew knew something was medically wrong in the days after concussion-like symptoms began from “the hardest hit I’ve ever had” in the Indianapolis 500. He’d been evaluated and cleared to race after the Aug. 23 crash, but he just didn’t feel right.

The IndyCar rookie told The Associated Press on Thursday he has been experiencing dizziness, sleeping difficulties, irritability, headaches and confusion since he crashed in the Aug. 23 race. He continued to race in four more events as he tried to “play through it” until friends and family encouraged him to seek medical treatment.

He since has been diagnosed with a concussion and is working on a recovery plan with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s sports medicine concussion program, the same place NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt Jr. received care after concussions in 2012 and ’16. Askew will not compete in next weekend’s doubleheader on the road course at Indianapolis, and Arrow McLaren SP will put three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves in the No. 7 Chevrolet.

“This is all I’ve worked for,” the 23-year-old told AP. “I don’t come from money, and I’ve worked my way up and have finally gotten my shot in a good car. And then all of a sudden, the results just weren’t there in a car I knew should be performing. And I just didn’t feel like myself, you know?

“So initially I felt like I needed to stay in the car and continue to improve. And then I didn’t feel like I could do that with my condition and what was going on. I was starting to lose confidence in myself.”

Earnhardt praised Askew for going to Pittsburgh to see Dr. Micky Collins.

“Oliver is in the best hands when it comes to taking care of this problem and getting back on the racetrack. It was very smart of him to get in front of Micky so that he could understand the seriousness of the situation and begin the process of getting well,” Earnhardt said. “You can absolutely heal from this but not without taking the step of getting help. Often that’s the most difficult step.”

Athletes often hide injuries to continue competing, and even Earnhardt admittedly masked concussions during his driving career. Askew didn’t know what was wrong with him but was frightened to get out of the car.

He is a paid driver who brings no sponsorship money to the team (but did bring a $1 million scholarship for winning last year’s Indy Lights championship), and owner Sam Schmidt holds the option on his contract.

As he tried to race on, his performance suffered. Askew had finished third and sixth at Iowa — the previous two races before Indianapolis. After the crash, he was part of a multicar accident the next week at Gateway and has not finished higher than 14th in the four races since Indy.

A year after winning seven Indy Lights races, Askew has fallen from 12th to 18th in the standings and slipped considerably off the pace. He said he struggled in team debriefs, had difficulty giving feedback and has gone through a personality change that was noticeable to those close to Askew.

Spire Sports + Entertainment, which represents Askew and was among those who pushed the driver to see a doctor, noted Arrow McLaren SP did not reveal that Askew was suffering from a concussion in its Thursday announcement he would miss next week’s race.

“Oliver clearly demonstrated his talent until Lap 91 of the Indianapolis 500, and I hope this does not become another case study of why athletes do not tell their teams they are injured,” said agent Jeff Dickerson. “The reason they do that is because more often times than not they are replaced. In motorsports, there is always somebody to replace you, and whether it was Dale Jr. or Oliver Askew, there is always another driver available.

“I hope this is not a barrier to progress for other drivers — especially young drivers afraid of losing their job — to notify their teams they are hurt. I hope the team proves me wrong because the good news is, the kid has had a head injury for the past month and has still run 14th in IndyCar.”

After finally seeking medical treatment, Askew said he was relieved to learn there was something wrong. He said doctors told him the injury has a “100% recovery rate” and he believes he will be able to race in the IndyCar season finale next month at St. Petersburg. He’s been rehabilitating with exercises and tasks that strain the brain such as deliberately going to grocery stores and the airport.

“Honestly, you know, if I had not gone to see medical professionals I would probably stay in the car,” Askew said. “But now after hearing what’s wrong and that it could get worse, God forbid I have another hit, I know I did the right thing. I think I can be an example for young drivers now in stepping up and saying something is wrong, I need to have this checked out.”