Jack Doohan was no stranger to the Formula 3 podium, but it is his first visit to the top step at Le Castellet in 2021 that stands out to him as an unforgettable race.
We asked the Australian to delve into the race weekend from start to finish, recalling how his first F3 win came about as well as his pre-race preparations and post-race feelings of a momentous occasion in his career.
"It was quite good because I’m living like an hour and half from the circuit, so I was able to bring my coach down a few days early. We were able to do a little bit of training and structure during the week. Then I was able to drive to the circuit on the Thursday morning for preparation, so it was a bit more chilled, and I was in a good space going into the summer too. So, we were able to train outside which was something that I would target before every weekend.
"The Feature Race was in the wet and the rest of the weekend was in the dry. During the dry sessions, our pace was quite good. In Qualifying, I didn’t get a decent tow, it was quite tight. I think the top four were within a tenth and a half. I was P4 but our pace was still quite good and so we were satisfied.
"The following two races, which were both the reverse grid races, I think I finished in fifth and then started seventh for the second race and finished fourth in that race. So, at that point, it was a good amount of points already leading up to the main race.
"Just before, we were in the waiting group, and it started to hammer down. It was initially either going to be slicks or wets, but then it starts raining in the pit lane and it was confirmed on wet, but it didn’t continue raining, which meant the track was going to be drying throughout. So, everyone’s on wets and I think we went quite low with the tyre pressures, so the first few laps, I had really not a great pace, not a whole lot of grip, so it was important to just stay chilled, not to overdo the tyres and put the temps through the roof."
"We stayed in fifth for the first four or five laps I think. Then as soon as the car started to come alive, we started to slowly overtake. In the space of maybe five or six laps, I got up to P2. And at that point I think (Dennis) Hauger had a 3.8s gap in the lead. Lap after lap, I started taking like six or seven tenths out of him.
"Once I caught him, it was just seeing where and what was possible. I think it was three laps to go and I made a dive into the last corner, and he got the switchback on me. But then luckily, I was able to get back around the outside of him into Turn 1. Then to be honest, I pushed quite a lot to get there, so I was a bit on the limit on rear temps myself. In the remaining few laps, it was still quite tense, I wasn’t pulling away as fast as I should. But it was just enough to get a second and a half buffer just to at least make things a little bit more calm.
"It was quite a big thing obviously, finally my first win. Because Sprint Races or reverse grid races are obviously a win, but in places like Monaco where you can literally be two seconds quicker and not be able to overtake, you can start on pole and win the race with no pace. So, with Feature Races and starting where you qualified, it’s a lot more difficult so it was amazing to come and win the main race and take a huge chunk of points for my Championship too.
"We didn’t celebrate. I think we had a quick turnaround. It was one race weekend off and then back to Red Bull Ring. Luckily, I was able to drive home early and soak it all in, but not really trying to hang onto it for too long. I wanted to really refocus for the rest of the Championship.