Jack Doohan has bounced back from the disappointment of Bahrain's opening round of the FIA Formula 2 season in emphatic fashion, the Australian finishing second in the Feature Race of the second event of the year in Saudi Arabia on Sunday.
Jack arrived at the super-fast Jeddah Corniche Circuit – where he made his F2 debut at the end of 2021 – looking to make up for a pointless weekend for Invicta Virtuosi Racing at Sakhir. The 20-year- old immediately made his mark with a fourth-place result in qualifying, setting up chances of strong finishes in Saturday's 20-lap Sprint and Sunday's 28-lap Feature.
Seventh place and two points in the Sprint preceded an even better result on Sunday, when Jack was promoted to third on the grid after Frenchman Theo Pourchaire (ART) was penalised for causing a collision in the Sprint.
The second driver in the 22-car field to make his mandatory pit stop on lap six, Jack moved steadily forward thereafter and gained two places on laps 16 and 17, when Ollie Bearman (Prema) spun and pole-sitter Victor Martins (ART) retired after a crash.
As his rivals pitted for their mandatory stops, Jack pushed through to second with five laps left, and while he didn't have the pace to challenge race-winner Frederik Vesti (Prema), he banked his seventh F2 podium and 18 world championship points after finishing 3.959secs behind the Danish driver.
The pair of results in Saudi saw Jack jump from 14th to sixth in the standings with 20 points on a weekend where series leader Ralph Boschung (five points) and Pourchaire (zero) didn't capitalise on their momentum from Bahrain. Jack is right back into championship contention, just 13 points behind Boschung.
"To get some solid points, 18 – it's obviously good," Jack said in the post-race press conference.
"The top guys in the championship didn't score so great so to be up there and to get higher up on the board, consolidate myself for the year, it's great. We did a good race, the maximum we could. I don't think I had the outright pace but to finish P2, finally a little bit of good luck, I'm happy.
"I still don't have that same feeling that I had at the end of last year, but I think that's only a positive. I think when we get things sorted, we're going to be very hard to beat."
Next up for Jack is something completely new – a chance to race in Australia, where he'll be the only local driver on the F2 grid for the debut of the category at Albert Park.
"I'll be the first time I'm ever driving a race car in Australia – it's going to be really cool," he said.
"It's still two hours in a plane from where my home is in Australia, but to be there and the crowd to be Aussie, to have that behind me – I'm sure the vibe and the atmosphere will be superb."
FIA Formula 2 World Championship: Round 2 Saudi Arabia results
Sprint race (20 laps): Started 6th, Finished 7th
Feature race (28 laps): Started 3rd, Finished 2nd
2023 F2 World Championship standings: 20 points (6th overall)
Next F2 event: Albert Park, Australia (March 30-April 2)