Jack Doohan's first full FIA Formula 2 championship season ended in frustration, the 19-year-old Australian retiring from the final Feature Race of the year in Abu Dhabi after leading for 16 of the 33 laps.
The Virtuosi Racing driver started from fifth on the grid and elected to run the medium-compound tyres for the opening stint of the race, saving his faster, softer tyres for a push towards the podium in the closing laps.
Jack did his part in making the contrary strategy work to perfection, taking the lead on Lap 9 after his rivals on soft tyres had pitted and building that advantage to 17 seconds until he made his own stop on Lap 25, re-joining in fifth on softs for a charge to the flag.
His race lasted just four more corners, however, with his left front wheel detaching from the car as he crested Turn 4 after not being affixed correctly at his stop.
"That was a difficult one to take," Jack said.
"We started on the alternative strategy, and I had a bit of an issue off the start – we didn't get the clutch mapping right and I fell back quite a few places, but managed to get back the positions.
"When everyone on the 'normal' strategy boxed, we were in P8 and I managed to do a really, really strong stint on the medium tyres, we were fastest on track on old mediums when the rest were out on new (mediums). When we pitted, I exited the box only eight seconds behind the race lead on the soft tyre, which is about two-and-a-half to three seconds a lap quicker with 10 laps to go.
"We were definitely in with a very strong chance of the win – if not, a definite podium – but I wasn't able to have a go at that with the wheel coming off at the pit exit."
Jack's DNF saw him slip two places to finish sixth overall in the championship after a strong first F2 season, the highlights being a Feature Race win in Belgium, and Sprint Race successes in Great Britain and Hungary. He amassed six podiums, three pole positions and four fastest laps across the 28-race season, scoring 128 points.
Abu Dhabi was a busy weekend for Jack, as he combined his F2 duties with his second Formula One FP1 session for Alpine after making his first official on-track appearance on an F1 weekend in Mexico City last month.
"It was obviously a hectic weekend in Abu Dhabi starting with F2 practice, straight into F1 FP1 and then literally in the pit lane jumping into the F2 car for qualifying," Jack said.
Jack wrapped up his 2022 commitments by driving for Alpine in the one-day post-season F1 test on November 22, then completing a three-day F2 test at the Yas Marina Circuit immediately afterwards, topping the timesheets on the second day.
FIA Formula 2 World Championship: Round 14 Abu Dhabi results
Sprint race (23 laps): Started 6th, Finished 7th
Feature race (33 laps): Started 5th, DNF
2022 F2 World Championship standings: 128 points (6th)
Next F2 event: Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir (March 4-5, 2023)