Content with claiming fourth in Qualifying after enduring a frustrating opening round, Jack Doohan believes he and Invicta Virtuosi Racing are beginning to make headway this season. Solidly in the pack for both races in Jeddah, the Australian is optimistic he can bring home some positive results to crack open his 2023 points tally.
Doohan was one of the few drivers who managed to get a lap in on the right side of the Red Flags. Opting for a second run on his second set of supersofts, the Alpine junior shot up from P13 to P4 with a 1:42.110. Mere seconds later, running ground to a halt with the Red Flag bringing an early end to the session.
Whilst many of his rivals were denied the chance to improve, Doohan’s last ditch effort held firm. Sitting only 0.040s behind Oliver Bearman and Théo Pourchaire in second and third, he reckons the potential was there for more. However, it’s the almost eight tenths gap to pole-sitter Victor Martins that has given him food for thought about the improvements still needed.
“It was quite alright. I think it's a step forward from where we were in Qualifying in Bahrain, so I think we've hopefully sorted some fundamental issues that were going wrong. I’m half a tenth from P2 and I think that can be definitely found, but the margin to P1 at the moment is a little bit too big.
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"We need to understand why and where, as well as the whole grid. I'm at least in a good position for two solid races, so I'm looking forward to getting them underway.
Contending with the first of four street circuits on the calendar, the onus is on the drivers to make the difference where margin for error is separated by a knife edge. With accuracy, stamina and quick thinking all at play, Doohan says he is embracing what the Jeddah Corniche Circuit has to offer.
“With some things that maybe still aren’t ideal with our package, it’s at least somewhere where I can make a little bit of a difference as a driver to try and pull it together and really extract the most between the walls. My style suits most places and it’s a track that I really enjoy and it’s a pleasure to drive around it.
“I do enjoy street circuits very much. It’s raw, there’s no room for error. As a driver, you definitely need a good package underneath you, but you can make a more solid difference than obviously on a regular circuit. So, I’m glad that we’ve got a semi-street circuit in Melbourne on the calendar as well this year and I’m looking forward to going back to Baku and Monaco.”
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Lining up sixth on the Sprint Race reverse grid, courtesy of Frederik Vesti’s penalty, Doohan’s right in the mix for points. Having raced around the ultra-quick and technical track in both 2021 and 2022, his experiences have taught him that nothing is impossible, with plenty of opportunities to seize come lights out.
“Starting P6, it’s going to be an interesting race and hopefully we can get a few spots forward. From what I know, we can race here, so it’d be great to end up with some points in the bag. Then starting P4, it’s all to play for on Sunday.”