Luck deserts Doohan as Austrian podium slips away 🇦🇹

Luck deserts Doohan as Austrian podium slips away 🇦🇹

The Austrian round of the FIA Formula 2 world championship was bittersweet for Jack Doohan, with the Australian showing his best form since early in the 2023 season before being unluckily denied a podium result, finishing fourth in Sunday's 40-lap Feature race at the Red Bull Ring.

Jack qualified a strong fifth in Styria, and made his intentions clear by vaulting to third on lap two. He overtook pole-sitter Victor Martins (ART) and Kush Maini (Campos Racing) with the assistance of DRS into Turn 4 and set off after Frederik Vesti (Prema) and Martins' teammate Theo Pourchaire, the trio quickly clearing away from the chasing pack.

After the majority of the field that had started on supersoft tyres made their pit stops, Doohan disposed of Pourchaire into Turn 3 on lap 25 into what was a net second place and set off after Vesti, the pair looking set to scrap it out for the victory.

A Safety Car period on lap 29 caused by Arthur Leclerc's DAMS entry shedding its right-rear wheel after a botched pit stop turned the race on its head, allowing the drivers who had yet to pit a chance to change to the faster supersoft tyres for the final laps with the field neutralised.

Richard Verschoor (Van Amersfoort Racing) and Ayumu Iwasa (DAMS), who had started from 11th and 16th respectively, were the biggest beneficiaries, hunting down Doohan on faster tyres that were 18 laps younger once racing resumed on lap 33.

Doohan lost second place to Verschoor and was then demoted by Iwasa to fourth with three laps left, the fresh-tyred pair then passing Vesti on the penultimate lap. Vesti then held off Doohan by three-tenths for third place, denying the Australian a second podium visit for the season after he finished second in the Saudi Arabia Feature race in March.

"I was quite happy in general with the weekend with the pace," Jack said.

"We were half a second quicker than Vesti in the lead per lap for about four laps, reeling him in very quickly before the safety car came out, which unfortunately gave the people on the alternative strategy a free stop and put them in right behind us leaders, changing the whole outcome of the race.

"It was disappointing, but to still finish fourth … I was still happy with the pace, we were the fastest on track on Sunday and had the pace for pole in qualy, so happy with the way we're moving forwards."

It was an unfortunate end to a weekend where Doohan displayed plenty of pace, which firstshowed in Friday qualifying and was again evident in Saturday's 27-lap Sprint race held under grey skies on a wet track. Doohan recovered superbly from an off-track moment at Turn 4 that dropped him to 20th on lap one to finish seventh.

"Unfortunately the slight excursion at Turn 4 dropped me to the back – with a few good re- starts we were able to get back to P7, so not a bad recovery." Jack said.

"I was a bit disappointed with the rally practice in the gravel, though …

Doohan's 14-point haul from Austria – his second-best weekend of the season – saw him jump three places in the championship standings to ninth with 54 points ahead of the next round at Silverstone for the British Grand Prix (July 7-9).

FIA Formula 2 World Championship: Round 7 Austria results

Sprint race (27 laps): Started 6th, finished 7th

Feature race (40 laps): Started 5th, finished 4th

2023 F2 World Championship standings: 54 points (9th overall)

Next F2 event: Silverstone, Great Britain (July 7-9)