Jack Doohan has won his second FIA Formula 2 Feature race in a week, the 20-year-old's prodigious pace and bold tyre strategy combining to see him storm to victory from 11th on the grid at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium on Sunday.
Seven days after dominating the Feature in Hungary – where he qualified on pole, led every lap and set the fastest lap of the race in the most dominant display of his F2 career – Jack's fifth F2 win was one earned against the odds after bad luck wrecked his qualifying on Friday, with his fortunes flipping 180 degrees in Sunday's 25-lap race.
Jack was caught out by Spa's famously fickle weather on Friday, left stranded in 11th place after being unable to get a representative dry-weather lap time in before the heavens opened. Being mired on the sixth row of the grid prompted Jack and his Invicta Virtuosi Racing team to employ an alternative tyre strategy for the Feature, Jack starting the race on the yellow-banded medium-compound Pirelli rubber as his rivals used the soft red-marked tyres for the start.
Jack made up two places on lap one, put a brilliant move on Frenchman Isack Hadjar (Hitech) at the Fagnes chicane to take eighth place on lap eight, and then inherited the lead on lap 15 as his soft-shod rivals pitted. He then took full advantage of a safety car caused by Jak Crawford (Hitech) spinning and stopping on the following lap, diving into the pits to make his stop and emerge in second place on the faster soft tyre for the run to the chequered flag.
It set up a five-lap fight for first place with ART's Theo Pourchaire, Jack making his race- winning move at Turn 5 with three laps remaining. He then careered away to set the fastest lap of the race (1min 59.871secs) on that same lap before winning by 1.9secs, taking the Spa Feature for the second year running and recording his 10th F2 podium finish.
“Super lucky today, 100 percent, but we haven’t always had it our way, so I welcomed it with open arms and had a really strong day”, Jack said.
"We had some great pace so I was happy to show that. Once I got over Friday afternoon, I had my eyes forward and I honestly thought I could win today. That was my ambition, the team thought if I had a good race this morning then I could get fifth.
"I was in bed last night manifesting a win. In the end I was lucky with the safety car, but I'm happy we were able to get that done. Virtuosi have given me an awesome car, and made it definitely easier."
With 54 of a possible 56 points from the past two Feature races, Jack is now firmly in championship contention, just 38 points behind series leader Pourchaire with six races remaining in 2023.
"I'm not in a pressure situation," Jack said.
"We're resilient and we've been able to fight our way back after five rounds going from 18th in the championship (to fourth). It's still an almighty gap. Theo's still an awesome driver and doing an excellent job … but I'll continue to fight."
Earlier in the Spa weekend, Jack scored four world championship points after finishing fifth in Saturday's 17-lap Sprint, inheriting a place after the chequered flag when Dutchman Richard Verschoor (Van Amersfoort Racing) was disqualified after finishing second for using an illegal throttle map.
After a four-week pause, F2 resumes at Zandvoort for the Dutch Grand Prix (August 25-27).
FIA Formula 2 World Championship: Round 10 Belgium results
Sprint race (17 laps): Started 11th, finished 5th
Feature race (25 laps): Started 11th, finished 1st
2023 F2 World Championship standings: 130 points (4th overall)
Next F2 event: Zandvoort, Netherlands (August 25-27)