Renault Sport F1 has announced ist two new reserve drivers for the 2018. After Robert Kubica and Sergey Sirotkin left the team to join Williams, the role of third driver on the French team was a vacant that has now been filled by young drivers Jack Aitken and Artem Markelov.

Aitken, with two years of experience in the Renault Sport academy, goes one step further and is closer to F1 than ever. The British-Korean driver will do in 2018 his first FIA F2 season, with ART GP, the same team with which he was the GP3 runner-up in 2017. He has also achieved wins in several lower formulas including the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 and Alps in 2015.

“It feels amazing to take up the role as Third and Reserve Driver,” says Aitken. “It hasn’t quite processed yet, but I’m going to step up my involvement with the team quite a lot. Over the first Barcelona test, it will start to feel real and sink in a little bit more. The role gives me an opportunity to be closer to Nico and Carlos and learn from them, as well as observing the race team, the engineers and how everything operates. Of course, if I’m required, I’d be happy to jump in the car, but I hope it’s all fine with Nico and Carlos! At the moment, it will be about continuing my development.”

Aitken‘s propotion will probably grant him a chance to drive the Renault F1 in testing sessions. It is still yet to be known if he will be able to do a free practice session with the team.

While this move from Aitken was quite expected, the surprise came when the Enstone-based team announced that Artem Markelov would also join the team. The Russian driver has had no kind of previous relationship with the French manufacturer and he gets closer to F1 as he is about to face his fifth F2 season.

His role will be more restricted than Aitken‘s, mainly focusing on working on the simulator. However, it is also unknown if he will be able to jump into the car at any moment. He is now linked to an F1 team, a very important step if he wants to join the series at some time.

“I’m really happy to join Renault Sport Formula One Team as Test and Development Driver.” Said the Russian driver. “Renault is a standout name in Formula 1 so to sign for them is a really significant step in my career. This year will consist of a lot of listening and learning and taking the opportunity when it comes. I’m grateful for the opportunity, and I’ve had a busy winter of preparing for what will be a demanding season of test driving and racing in the FIA Formula 2 Championship with Russian Time. I’m very much looking forward to the start of the season and getting to work.”