Why Alpine junior feels ready for challenging jump to F1: ‘I do belong here’

Thomas Maher
Jack Doohan, Alpine junior, testing with the Enstone team in Abu Dhabi.

Jack Doohan believes he's ready to make the step to F1 with Alpine.

Alpine F1 junior Jack Doohan says he believes he’s ready to make the step up from Formula 2, should he get the call-up.

Australian driver Doohan finished in third place in the F2 Championship, behind title protagonists Theo Pourchaire and Frederik Vesti, and hopped into Alpine’s A523 for the Young Driver test in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.

Completing 107 laps, Doohan finished seventh of 25 drivers as Pirelli carried out a tyre test programme with regular race drivers alongside the Young Driver test. Doohan finished seven-tenths behind Alpine teammate Esteban Ocon, who topped the day’s testing overall.

Jack Doohan: I’m ready to jump in and match Alpine F1 drivers

Having taken part in FP1 for the Abu Dhabi GP on Friday, Doohan cut a confident figure after his F1 outings as well as winning the F2 feature race on Sunday.

Asked after the day’s testing whether he feels ready to make the leap to F1 once a seat opens up, Doohan said he no longer has any doubts over whether he could match the abilities of Ocon or Pierre Gasly.

“Yeah, 100 per cent,” he told media, including PlanetF1.com, when asked about whether he feels ready for F1.

“I think in FP1, we showed that. I didn’t quite maximise the run, but I was only just over a tenth behind Pierre on both our soft runs.

“Today also, whether it was long, high fuel runs, or low fuel, we were all together. It didn’t quite come together, it was actually some track management at the end, we didn’t get our last C5 run.

“So it’s a little bit masked, the times, but we know – especially in-house – how close it was. So I think, if I needed to jump in, I’d be more than ready to, I think I could match the guys for sure.”

As for whether the extensive testing on Tuesday whetted his appetite for getting behind the wheel of an F1 car, the Australian said he discovered a lot about his own strengths and weaknesses over the mammoth mileage he racked up.

“I think a lot, especially seeing today,” he said.

“I knew I could extract the one-lap pace advantage and try and get a lot of time out of it but today, really doing back-to-back 10-lap runs and running at different stages, different tyre management, and seeing that I was able to be in the mix and be strong and be one of the guys out there who was setting good times and having that good management, it’s good confidence for myself and for the team.

“It makes me feel like that I do belong here.”

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Doohan explained that, while his raw pace is roughly where he wants it to be, some extra diligence in preparation will help him find some more.

“At the moment, over one lap, I seem to very close to both of the main drivers,” he said.

“I think it’s gonna come down to just extracting that last half-tenth.

“Whether it’s working with the tyre guys, the aero guys, really trying to maximise little things, especially in tyre prep and warm-up.

“We know especially that it’s something that’s different than what I’m used to in Formula 2. I can have a snap, lose the rear, and I know I’ll lose a little bit of rear potential, but not massively.

“Whereas in Formula 1, you scrub the front a few degrees too much, you lose two and a half to three-tenths and the lap is completely done.

“So it’s really working through this, really fine-tuning the little things at the moment.”

Looking ahead to 2024, Doohan said he’s not quite sure yet what his racing plans – if any – will be, but said he has every confidence in Alpine’s plans to help him land a seat for 2025.

“We’ll obviously be spending a lot of time with the team, inside the car. And the test programme will be announced soon,” he said.

“But it’s great to know that I do have that – there’ll be more than I was doing this year, which is great. I’m becoming more and more comfortable in the car.

“Whether or not I’m racing next year, it’s just super important to have that seat time and for Alpine to be providing that for me is very important. So I look forward to that.

“I don’t have anything set to race. I had quite a lot of options – sub formulas and inside formulas other than F1.

“So not that the opportunities were shy of Super Formula, IndyCar, hypercar, whatever it was, I was very fortunate to have those options.

“However, at this point in time, I feel I must focus on Formula 1, which is heavily provided by Alpine and then I’m able to stay within the car.

“If I wasn’t going to have this extensive programme, then for sure I would need some seat time and would need to be venturing out somewhere else.

“But being able to have that seat time in F1 machinery and then be at the track, doing sim work, I think that’s going to position me in the best possible way to land a seat in 2025.”

Both Ocon and Gasly’s contracts with Alpine expire at the conclusion of the 2024 F1 season.

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