Doohan puts F2 title above F1 Reserve Driver role
By Mat Coch
Saturday 26th November, 2022 - 8:09pm
Winning the Formula 2 Championship is more important to Jack Doohan than becoming an F1 Reserve Driver.
The Australian has effectively stepped into the Reserve Driver role following Oscar Piastri’s decision to join McLaren for 2023.
That saw Doohan in action during Free Practice 1 at the Mexico City and Abu Dhabi Grands Prix, as well as the post-season test in Yas Marina on Tuesday.
Officially, he has not been confirmed as Piastri’s direct replacement with the operation, which now boasts Pierre Gasly alongside Esteban Ocon in its race seats.
Doohan is the obvious choice as the most senior member of the Alpine Academy and already possesses an FIA Super Licence.
However, landing the Reserve Driver role is not high on the 19-year-old’s priority list.
“Honestly, being a Reserve Driver or not doesn’t help me, or doesn’t really do anything for me,” he noted when asked about his position by Speedcafe.com.
“The main priority – it’s a bit repetitive – but is to focus fully on Formula 2.
“I could come around to all the Formula 1 races and sit there and be there, but, number one, the likelihood of obviously hopping in a car is, as we know, very, very low – I don’t think Alpine as a group with Renault, had it since 2015 or 2014.
“So it would just be taking slightly a bit of time off my Formula 2 commitments, where I could fully focus on that and take full advantage of my time there as well as extracting everything I can from the team to then hopefully be in a full-time driving role for 2024 – or whether that be 2025.”
By winning next year’s Formula 2 Championship, Doohan reasons he puts himself in a better market position than being Reserve Driver for Alpine would.
To do that, he wants to maximise his chances, and that includes minimising distractions – the Reserve Driver title is an attractive but ultimately meaningless moniker at this point.
“I’m still 19; it’s not like I’ve finished my junior single-seater career,” he noted.
“I need to kind of find myself a position.
“I’ve been embedded with the team for the past three or four rounds, so I’ve experienced a like-role, you could say, to a Reserve Driver.
“I want to be a full-time driver, and as much as it’s cool being here at the races, it sucks not driving.
“So I want to do everything possible next year to make sure I am a full-time driver.”
The problem for Doohan is much the same as that faced by Piastri at the end of his championship-winning Formula 2 campaign.
Alpine back then had Ocon and Fernando Alonso under contract, forcing the Melburnian to sit a year out.
Looking forward to the end of 2023, and it looks to be a similar situation with Ocon on a long-term deal and Gasly on a ‘multi-year’ agreement.
In short, there are no race drives available with the squad should Doohan win the F2 title next year.
“I have confidence and a lot of trust in our team that, firstly, I have to win the championship, which if everything stays intact and goes all to plan, I’m confident that we can do that.
“If I have to sit out and wait a year, I’d be fine with that because I’d be more than happy to wait for an Alpine seat and continue to grow with them.
“If there’s possibilities elsewhere, to be loaded out, then amazing, but that is in the future and that is to be decided.”
Doohan added that conversations around 2024, at least conceptually, have already taken place.
While nothing is locked in stone, it all hinges on success in the Formula 2 Championship next season.
It, therefore, makes sense that Doohan is willing to forgo the Reserve Driver position knowing the F1 payoff at the end of next year could be far greater.
Preparations for the 2023 Formula 2 campaign are already underway, with three days of testing beginning in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.