19-year-old Doohan joined the Red Bull Junior Team in 2017. However, in a surprise move to Alpine Academy, he joined the Enstone outfit for the 2022 season. F1 Feeder Series had the opportunity to speak to Doohan on our podcast earlier this month about this decision and whether he feels it is now vindicated.
By Tyler Foster
Jack Doohan is having a strong rookie campaign in Formula 2 this year after graduating as the F3 Vice-Champion in 2021. The Australian is part of motorsport royalty, with his father being the great motorcycle racer Mick Doohan. In the face of big expectations, the youngster is living up to them. We asked Doohan how his switch from Red Bull to Alpine came about, and what it was that convinced him to make the decision to transfer between F1 Junior Teams:
After my first day there I knew I was quite certain of where I wanted to beDoohan on the Alpine vibe check
“I was going to be sticking with Red Bull for this season and Alpine made an offer for us to move to their academy in the beginning of September of last year. It wasn’t until I think the middle of October that I went up to the factory; still not signed with Alpine but they just gave me the opportunity to go to the factory, see the vibe really and the atmosphere and and how I felt around the team and what they could really do for me and what I could do for them. It was after my first day there really I knew I was quite certain of where I wanted to be.”
There are a number of clear differences between the Alpine and Red Bull Junior Teams and the way they operate. After spending four years being affiliated with Red Bull, we asked Doohan to compare the two F1 academies from his own personal experience:
“I think they’re both obviously great academies. I think it’s driver opinion and it definitely comes down to himself or herself and what they want out of an academy; basically what they’re looking for, and for me it was in order to grow further and further my potential and capabilities in normal circumstances as a human being and also as a racing driver.”
With Alpine offering more opportunities within motorsport it seems that Doohan may be covering himself in case he has to wait for a seat to open up in F1 but he remains adamant that Formula 1 is still the primary goal. The young Aussie makes it clear that he is aware of the reputation that Alpine has, especially following reigning Formula 2 Champion Oscar Piastri being made to sit on the sideline and wait his turn for an F1 seat. However, Doohan explained how in the long-run, joining the Alpine Academy was a “no-brainer.”
“As we know the rate of transition to Formula 1 has not been as high [with Alpine] as with other academies. So initially as an outsider, not knowing so much about the academy, you would think, as my goal is Formula 1, that I want to be in a position where I can be promoted to that. But after looking into the details and the opportunities that I would be given, it was almost a no-brainer.
We’ve seen plenty of drivers, and very talented ones, not make it to the pinnacle of motorsportJack Doohan
“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. So it’s not just Formula 1 and a sole focus on that. Obviously that [F1] is my current goal and our goal together, but not everyone obviously makes it to Formula 1, so they’re trying to build other areas for drivers to go to.”
“Firstly, it wasn’t the reason that I joined the program, as my Plan A will continue until failed. Especially in Formula 2, Formula 3, a lot of things have to gel, have to to go right for that ultimate goal to happen. On some occasions, we’ve seen plenty of drivers and 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.
“Especially Caio [Collet], Victor [Martins] and Oscar [Piastri]; they’ve been in the program for many, many years so for them to get up to Formula 2 or in the high moments of Formula 3 and then all of a sudden they just don’t make it to Formula 1 so they’re not in the program anymore, it doesn’t really make sense.”
Learning from the best
So far, Doohan has clearly impressed as a rookie in Formula 2 this year. He sits ninth currently in the standings after managing two poles (in Bahrain and Spain) and scored three podiums including his maiden F2 victory in the Silverstone Sprint Race. Along with the advice from his father, he has also built up a relationship with McLaren’s race-winning Daniel Ricciardo, with an opportunity to learn from one of the best drivers of the current generation.
“He [Ricciardo] is 100% someone that I could turn to for advice and really pick his brain because he’s done so much, and has been around the block of Formula 1 and also junior single-seaters, so he’s got a lot of knowledge and a lot of brain power. Obviously things aren’t going 100% amazing for him at the moment in this set in time but that doesn’t dictate his talent or what he’s done.”
Watch the full podcast here:
Header photo credit: Formula Motorsport Ltd
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