Hailing from the land Down Under, Australian driver Jack Doohan has impressed in his racing exploits so far this year, but who is the young Aussie?
Living up to the extremely high standards of his father, five-time motorcycle Grand Prix Champion Mick Doohan, is always going to be difficult. However, as an Alpine Academy Driver, Jack has been given a golden opportunity to get behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car for FP1 at the Mexican Grand Prix weekend, replacing Esteban Ocon for the session.
Therefore, it is pertinent that we remind ourselves of what Jack has achieved so far in his motorsport career, and what lies in the future for him.
His racing history
Despite never outright winning a racing series, Doohan’s consistently high-scoring positions and final year standings deserve a lot of praise.
His first jump from karting saw him in the United Kingdom, duking it out with the likes of Dennis Hauger and Ayrton Simmons in the 2018 F4 British Championship. With three race victories to his name, Doohan finished fifth overall, not bad for his first outing in an actual single seater!
He subsequently jumped around various series for a year, never quite managing to claim top spot come the end of the campaign. He finished second in the Drivers’ Standings in both the 2019 and 2019-20 Formula 3 Asian Championships, behind Ukyo Sasahara and Joey Alders respectively.
The Australian driver had climbed the ranks very quickly; a chance in the FIA Formula 3 Championship was imminent. However, 2020 proved to be a difficult year for him, as he failed to get to grips with the Dallara F3 chassis in time. He scored no points.
Nevertheless, young Doohan bounced back with renewed determination for 2021. He must have done his homework over the winter break, as he secured five wins on his way to his favourite position, second, in the final Drivers’ Standings. A dominant Hauger stood in his way of a maiden Drivers’ Title.
A few taster races in Formula 2 followed, and it seemed as though the new chassis and engine combination suited Doohan’s driving style a lot better. He scored points in only his second race in the series with MP Motorsport, and was duly signed by Virtuosi Racing for the 2022 season.
The current season
Doohan currently sits fourth in the Drivers’ Standings, with a single round remaining in the 2022 Formula 2 Championship at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi. He is the second-highest ranked rookie at the moment, with Williams reserve driver Logan Sargeant sitting in third.
His first full season in F2 has been full of ups and downs. It started poorly for the Australian; despite scoring pole position at the season opener in Bahrain he would only score six points in the first three double-header rounds. Numerous collisions, with Théo Pourchaire in Bahrain, Sargeant at Jeddah and Hauger at Imola, all ruined his chances of getting off the ground running in the Championship.
Results steadily improved over the course of the season. He picked up his first podium at the Feature race at Catalunya, and his first win came courtesy of a superb wet-weather drive that saw him perform three magnificent overtakes from fourth on the grid for the Silverstone Sprint race.
A couple more victories came Doohan’s way, a commanding Hungaroring Sprint race in which he lead every lap, and an exemplary weekend in Belgium where he came second and first in the Sprint and Feature races respectively.
He sits just nine points behind Sargeant in the Championship, with one round to go. At 126 points, he is level with Jehan Daruvala and Enzo Fittipaldi, but his full focus will be to finish as the highest-placed rookie this year.
What the future holds
Doohan has been a test driver for the Alpine F1 Team since the start of this year. He has had numerous goes driving F1 machinery in the past, piloting last year’s A521 in May in Qatar, June at Silverstone and September in Hungary. However, this coming Friday will be Jack’s first time behind the wheel of the current iteration of Alpine’s F1 cars, the A522.
On Alpine’s Mexican Grand Prix Preview, the Australian driver said: “It’s a fantastic opportunity for me and I’m really excited to drive Esteban’s car in the session. For me, it’s another step closer to achieving my ultimate goal of reaching Formula 1 and I’ll do my best to take as much from the experience as I can.”
As test driver, Doohan can expect to partake in another free practice session at Yas Marina. For now however, there are no potential inroads to a F1 seat. Alpine have already confirmed their driver lineup for 2023, with Pierre Gasly making the move from AlphaTauri and Esteban Ocon signing a contract extension last year to keep him with the French outfit until 2024 at least.
Having only recently joined the Alpine Academy, Doohan will no doubt have the chance to participate in many more FP1 and FP2 sessions in the coming seasons, but for him to be considered for a seat in the pinnacle of open-wheel motorsport, he will need to improve his results in F2.
A Title is certainly not off the cards for the Australian driver; at just 19 years of age he still has plenty of time on his hands to show off his true potential.