Jack Doohan making good impression on Alpine ahead of 2023 decision

Michelle Foster
Jack Doohan putting in ear plugs ahead of his FP1 run. Mexico October 2022

Alpine have yet to decide whether Jack Doohan will be their reserve driver in 2023 but it’s looking good for the Aussie after he impressed Otmar Szafnauer.

Signing with the Alpine academy earlier this year, Doohan expected to bide his time behind Oscar Piastri as he progressed from reserve to race driver.

But then Piastri quit Alpine, the 2021 Formula 2 champion signing with McLaren for next season.

That gave Doohan a welcome boost, the 19-year-old handed his compatriot’s two free practice outings in Mexico and Abu Dhabi.

The three-time Formula 2 race winner covered 13 laps and was fourth quickest of the five young drivers in action.

Szafnauer was happy.

“He’s a decent young man and very fast,” he told Motorsport.com. “He had 13 laps in our car and in these 13 laps he quickly picked up speed.

“But we told him beforehand ‘stay within your limit, don’t drive at full speed’.

“He did exactly what we asked him to do after he had prepared himself in an exemplary manner. He wanted to know everything. He’s a good boy.”

Doohan is in line to take up the role of Alpine’s official reserve driver for next season, the 19-year-old dovetailing that with his Formula 2 commitments.

“This decision hasn’t been made yet,” Szafnauer conceded.

“I think like my mother, she always said ‘first the wedding, then the baptism’.”

But so far so good from the Australian driver as far as Szafnauer’s concerned.

“Like I said an impressive young man. He’s fast.

“In 2023 his focus will be on winning the title in Formula 2. If he could do that in his second year – that’s what we’re focusing on. Then we’ll look further.

“We’re lucky to have him in our youth program.”

Alpine’s first objective when it comes to Jack Doohan…

A contract, and a signed one at that.

Alpine dropped the ball when it came to Piastri, the team having only a term sheet up their sleeves when they went to the Contract Recognition Board to fight for the driver’s services.

The court ruled Alpine did not have a valid contract with the 23-year-old, only McLaren did.

That was egg in the face for the Enstone team, who to this day are still smarting over the situation.

So first up they need to make sure Doohan is locked into a contract, one that clearly states the duration of the deal, the clauses, and the obligations from both sides.

Doohan is still young, just 19, but he’s shown himself to be a talented driver with a runner-up result in the 2021 Formula 3 championship where he won four races with Trident.

This year racing for Virtuosi Racing, he has three wins on the board as well as three pole positions, P4 in the standings behind potential 2023 Williams driver Logan Sargeant.

Doohan may not have set the junior leagues alight like Piastri did with his three titles in three years, but there’s definitely something there, Alpine now need to nature it.

Read more: F1 2023 driver line-up: Who is confirmed for next season’s grid?