Jack Doohan signed off his tenure in the FIA Formula 2 championship in dominant style in Abu Dhabi, the Australian converting from pole position for a third victory of his final season in the category to leap to third in the world championship standings.
It was as close to the perfect farewell as could be for the 20-year-old, who took pole on Friday and finished 6th from 10th on the grid in Saturday’s Sprint race before being in a class of one on Sunday, scampering to a 2.5-second lead after only six laps.
Starting the race on soft tyres, the Invicta Virtuosi Racing driver eased away from India’s Kush Maini (Campos Racing) before his sole pit stop of the race for medium rubber on lap nine.
Jack managed his pace in the middle stint of the race and had front-row starter and fellow Alpine Academy driver Victor Martins (ART) covered, the Frenchman using the alternate medium-soft strategy to emerge from his own pit stop behind Jack with fresher rubber for the final 10 laps of the race.
Jack had the race well under control by then, easing off to win by 3.8secs for his third Feature race victory of the year to go with his triumphs in Hungary and Belgium in July. It was his sixth victory in the category, and one that saw him leapfrog Japanese driver Ayumu Iwasa (DAMS) to third in the final season standings, the championship being secured by ART’s Theo Pourchaire on Sunday.
“For the most part, it was under control,” Jack said of his race.
“The start was actually quite good. My reaction time was probably the best I've done in my career. It was a great getaway and it was nice to have a clean run into Turn 1 and I could do my own thing.”
Jack signalled his intentions early in qualifying on Friday, which came just half an hour after he’d competed in Formula One opening practice for Alpine, deputising for Esteban Ocon and finishing 0.145secs adrift of regular driver Pierre Gasly.
Jack took pole over Martins by 0.224secs, and said the experience of jumping from F1 to F2 machinery in Abu Dhabi last year had him much better prepared for the adjustment this time around.
“I was able to be a bit more prepared and make sure I made it as easy as possible,” he said.
“You are going from a lap time of a 1min 26secs to a 1:36 in a matter of 20 minutes or even less, so it’s no easy task. For me I feel great coming back from the F1 to the F2, where I think others might struggle more.”
Jack’s time in F2 ends with 60 race starts across two full seasons and the final six races of the 2021 campaign, finishing with six wins, 11 podiums, five poles, seven fastest laps and 303 world championship points.
“It's been a bit of a rollercoaster,” Jack said of 2023.
“Coming in this year, I wanted to make it my title fight year but the first five rounds, not scoring any points made it a little difficult. Round 6 after Monaco I was a good 79 points away from Theo and Fred (Vesti), so to come back now with only a 40-point deficit is good.
“When it's been in our control, we've done the most we could but unfortunately, we just lost too much. You've got to be happy with what you can do. I'm stoked to go out like this.”
FIA Formula 2 World Championship: Round 13 Abu Dhabi results
Sprint race (23 laps): Started 10th, finished 6th
Feature race (33 laps): Started 1st, finished 1st
2023 F2 World Championship standings: 168 points (3rd overall)