Speaking to Jack Doohan on Thursday, he told F1 Feeder Series, “qualifying performance definitely isn’t a place that we need to focus on”. The Virtuosi Racing driver certainly wasn’t lying, as for the second time already this season Doohan claimed pole position with an exceptional performance in Barcelona. After qualifying, F1 Feeder Series spoke to Doohan along with other selected media about his hopes for the Feature Race on Sunday.
By Tyler Foster
Starting the season off with an impressive pole position at Bahrain in the first round was the highlight of Doohan’s season so far, however that may be about to be eclipsed this weekend. The Australian looked strong in the Practice session earlier on Friday and went into qualifying as a contender for pole.
Virtuosi sent Doohan out during the gap in qualifying where most cars had pitted, leaving him with fresh rubber and an empty track. He utilised this before his final flying runs at the end of the session and kept improving; ultimately managing a strong lap that was over two tenths ahead of previous leader Jehan Daruvala.
Despite a late charge from Red Bull FP1 driver Jüri Vips, Doohan held on by a matter of a couple of hundredths to claim his second Formula 2 pole position in just four race weekends this year.
With the key takeaway from the running on Friday being the heat of the track surface and the degradation of the tyres, we asked Doohan just how he rated his ability to maintain his tyres from the front of the field.
“With my management, when we did the testing here I was able to dial everything in really nicely and we had really good pace in the long runs. I think it’s really finding something that works for me, as the previous race setup was driven by Zhou [Guanyu]. He was really good at managing the rear and definitely was in a different direction from what I’m now at with the race balance.”
“Finding something for me is just taking a little longer, but in Saudi we had really good performance on the hards and softs. Getting disqualified from qualifying made things a bit more difficult and only finishing ninth on stats doesn’t look as good but our pace was really strong.”
With Doohan’s previous pole in Bahrain leading to a disappointing tenth-place finish, the Australian will certainly be looking to make better of this opportunity this time round. He clearly has the pace, but stated that he needs to focus on maximising his race start as well as his pit entry.
We also asked Doohan if he would be disappointed to finish second or third in Sunday’s Feature Race, or whether a solid podium would be enough considering the lack of points he has scored in the first three rounds.
“I’m hoping things are in a good window and if we do everything right and things go our way, then a win would be great but I want to get some points on the board because there’s no point doing something risky and then leaving again with zero points. I’ll be pissed.”
“I’m looking forward to the fight with Jüri and Fred and properly a few others will be in the mix as well with strategy. It should be good.”
Despite Doohan’s consistency in qualifying, he knows just how important it is to convert come race day and once again he will start from the front with an opportunity to make up for Bahrain and take his first Formula 2 podium and victory on Sunday.
Meanwhile, as a result of impeding in qualifying, Felipe Drugovich, who was meant to start on reverse grid Pole, has received a three-place penalty and will now start from P4. Instead, Trident’s Calan Williams will start from the front in Saturday’s Sprint Race, with Van Amersfoort Racing’s Jake Hughes alongside.
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Header photo credit: Formula Motorsport Ltd