MP Motorsport rookie Jack Doohan was pleasantly surprised by how quickly he got to grips with the upgrade in machinery from Formula 3 to Formula 2, saying that he actually expected to qualify higher than 16th after the success of his debut in Free Practice.
Making the step-up as the F3 vice-Champion, Doohan was the highest placed rookie in the opening session of the weekend, finishing eighth, just over seven-tenths off the pace on the medium tyres.
However, he was then frustrated to find himself back in P16 at the end of Qualifying, 1.2s off the quickest laptime, after the switch to supersofts.
“There are a lot more procedures and things going on than in the Formula 3 cars: the carbon brakes, the turbo, the different tyres and, compound switching,” Doohan said. “In FP, we got up to speed quite quickly with it all.
“The turbo was a bit funny to work out in terms of not really knowing what the limit was on that, but I felt that we got up to speed quite quickly. I didn't have any expectations coming in and practice ended up quite good, but Qualifying for some reason - and we need to investigate why - was completely different.
“I am not happy considering that in my first run in the car we were eighth. I felt confident coming into Quali, and when I was in the car, I felt that I could get more out of it, but unfortunately, things weren't in the window to do that - that was the best that I could do today.”
His MP Motorsport teammate, and fellow F3 graduate, Clément Novalak ended the session in 12th, although he does have the benefit of a day’s post-season testing in Bahrain last year with UNI-Virtuosi.
And while Doohan will be looking into the reasons why he wasn’t higher up himself, the Australian’s focus now switches to the races, which he believes will be “completely different.”
Discussing his aims for the remainder of the weekend, Doohan added: “I just want to clock up the miles again and finish every race lap so I can further my experience.
“If possible, I would like to get into the top 10 in the first race tomorrow and get a reverse grid shot for tomorrow night in Race 2, but we have to keep grounded and take it lap-by-lap. Hopefully, we can find the potential. As long as we get to the end of the weekend and I know that we got the most out of every session, I’ll be happy.
“We're happy to be here, getting the knowledge of the Formula 2 car and also the Jeddah circuit. I am really thankful for the opportunity from MP and also from my family and my supporters, who made this happen.”