Doohan front-runner for Alpine F1 role
By Mat Coch
Friday 4th November, 2022 - 10:37am
Jack Doohan is the front-runner for Alpine’s Formula 1 Reserve Driver role for 2023.
The Australian is next in line behind Oscar Piastri in the French marque’s junior programme and has taken on an increased role with the Formula 1 team in recent weeks.
That has followed the determination made by the Contract Recognition Board that Alpine does not hold a valid contract with Piastri for next season.
The Melburnian has been absent from the track since the announcement, with Doohan becoming an increasing fixture in the garage.
“I’m just trying to prepare myself as much as possible,” Doohan said when asked by Speedcafe.com what his current role within the operation is.
“I kind of maximise what I can do, learn as much from the team and really embed myself with the team so potentially, if the opportunity does arise to get in the car or become a full-time driver, I’m more than ready.
“That’s what Alpine are helping me to do, and really, that’s the plan.
“I’m part of that future, which I’m very thankful for.
“So, this is the plan: to win Formula 2 next year, as well as being in the best possible position to see what the future holds.”
When pressed on whether that meant he was Reserve Driver in all but name, he added only “that will be clarified,” before the team’s media management stepped in.
The team rates the 19-year-old highly.
He’s endeared himself to the squad’s senior management by actively pursuing a role within the team.
Given that opportunity, he performed the task asked of him without being overwhelmed.
“What impresses me most about Jack honestly is out of the car; his preparation, the work he does behind the scenes,” said Alan Permane, Team Manager at Alpine, following Doohan’s Free Practice 1 appearance in Mexico.
“He had never driven here and there hadn’t been a plan for him to drive here.
“A few weeks ago he was in Brisbane doing some F2 sponsor commitments and we told him he was going to be driving in Mexico.
“He flew back to the UK, did a day in the sim, and then came on with us to Austin and [Mexico].
“That’s what impresses me most.
“There’s no doubt base speed and when he makes it to Formula 1 that’ll be a nice differentiator for him.”
Doohan actively chased an opportunity following confirmation Piastri will leave the organisation.
That included an exchange with Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi on Instagram.
“The night that all that news [about Piastri] broke, I didn’t have Laurent’s number or anything, so I actually sent him a DM on Instagram – basically this huge, big, long paragraph saying why I think I could be a candidate [for the race team],” Doohan admitted.
“And he replied at like 03:00. I think he was in the US or somewhere, put his number at the bottom, and that we’d chat in the coming days.
“Then I spoke to Otmar [Szafnauer, Alpine Team Principal] the following night briefly.
“It was an opportunity, and even if it was a far-fetched one, at least now with the seat obviously being closed off and Pierre [Gasly] taking it, I know that I’m not sitting here going ‘I wish I pushed a little bit more, I wish I tried’.
“For a solid six weeks, I was doing absolutely everything I can to try and secure myself a seat.”
The Australian understands why Gasly was signed ahead of him and harbours no ill feelings.
Instead, he sees the positives from the deal; an opportunity to learn from another driver.
That attitude has only enhanced his good standing with the team.
“He’s an impressive young man,” said Szafnauer of Doohan.
“His focus will be to win the Formula 2 championship next year.
“That’s the focus, and then we’ll see where we go, but we’re grateful to have him as part of our Academy.”
The Alpine boss also confirmed that Doohan was on the shortlist of contenders for the Reserve Driver role, though added no decision has yet been made.
“That decision hasn’t been made, so for us to confirm that… it hasn’t been made,” he noted.
“Like my mother used to say: first the wedding, then the baptism.”