Jack Doohan: Alpine F1 seat would be ‘very difficult to turn down’
Jack Doohan has said he would find it “very difficult” to turn down the chance to race for Alpine in 2022, if the team made that call.
The Australian racer believes he’s ready to make the step up to Formula 1, should the unlikely scenario arise that he gets a call up from Alpine.
Alpine are currently in a state of limbo over the identity of their second driver for 2023, after confirming Oscar Piastri for the role following Fernando Alonso’s departure for Aston Martin.
Immediately after the confirmation of Piastri, the reigning Formula 2 Champion released a statement on social media to deny that he has signed a deal with Alpine and definitively will not be racing for the French marque next season.
Piastri’s public refusal to join Alpine for what would be his rookie season is due to an apparent tug-of-war over his services between Alpine and McLaren – the Woking-based team signing Piastri as a replacement for Daniel Ricciardo.
Jack Doohan hopeful of getting F1 call
Joining in on the Australians-only game of musical chairs, 19-year old Doohan is hopeful of capitalising on the potential opening at Alpine if circumstances play against the team and they lose Piastri to McLaren.
As part of the Alpine Driver Academy, just like Piastri, Doohan would be the next most logical driver for Alpine to approach, should they decide against an external hire.
Having had a chance to sample Alpine’s A521 earlier this year, Doohan has won two races in Formula 2 this season as he races for UNI-Virtuosi – he is currently ninth in the championship.
“I think it would be very difficult to turn down the opportunity, no matter what,” Doohan told Australian publication Speedcafe, when asked if he’d be ready to make his F1 debut if Alpine came knocking.
“Luckily, I’ve had the opportunity to be able to have a little bit of experience. It definitely helped [having some time in an F1 car] rather than none.
“However, there’d still be a lot of learning, a lot of in-depth study to be able to make sure I was up to par with what would be needed to do that.”
Could Alpine really call up Jack Doohan?
While stranger things have happened, it’s not particularly likely that Alpine would take the chance of promoting the driver ‘second-in-line’ to an F1 cockpit, just because the first-in-line failed to work out.
As Alpine don’t have a customer team affiliation, there’s nowhere that the manufacturer could place Doohan to allow him to get some experience before making the jump to the main squad.
The most likely scenario is that Piastri does end up at McLaren, with the ousted Ricciardo then becoming a free agent. Team boss Otmar Szafnauer has already stated the door to Alpine is not shut to Ricciardo, despite his ruthless decision to leave Renault at the end of 2020.
However, should Ricciardo choose not to return to Alpine, it may come down to whether Renault decide to hire someone external or have a look internally.
This could pave the way for someone to come in on a short-term deal, allowing the young Doohan some more time to mature and get more racing experience under his belt before arriving into F1.
Speaking in an interview with F1 Feeder Series in July, Doohan said working with Alpine has resulted in plenty of opportunities to further his racing knowledge and is hopeful of being able to get that call-up in the future.
“Look at the opportunities that I’ve already been given to date – not only just the Formula 1 test but the availability to be learning off of all the engineers and the test team of the F1 team and also on a wider branch of the LMP project as well,” he said.
“So it’s not just F1 and a sole focus on that. Obviously, F1 is my current goal and our goal together, but not everyone obviously makes it to F1, so they’re trying to build other areas for drivers to go to.”
“A lot of things have to gel, have to go right for that ultimate goal to happen. On some occasions, we’ve seen plenty of drivers, very talented ones, not make it to the pinnacle of motorsport, so what they’re trying to do is create a pathway for those drivers to be able to continue a career and create themselves a lifetime of endurance, so that they’re not only just left with nothing.”