Jack Doohan endured a "very unexpected" barren first weekend of the FIA Formula 2 season in Bahrain, the Australian failing to score points in either the Sprint or Feature race in three days of difficult results for the Invicta Virtuosi Racing Team.
The signs were ominous for Jack after Friday qualifying in Sakhir, when the 20-year-old could only manage 17th place on the 22-car grid after frustratingly encountering traffic as time ticked down on the 30-minute qualifying session.
He made methodical progress in Saturday's 23-lap Sprint race, but only advanced as far as 12th by the chequered flag, which ended up becoming 11th after American Jak Crawford (Hitech) was penalised five seconds for leaving the track and gaining an advantage.
In Sunday's 32-lap Feature race, Jack gained five places after an action-packed opening lap to sit in 12th, and was in seventh place after 18 laps.
However, a five-second pit lane infringement penalty applied after his only stop of the race on lap 10 scuppered his chance of points, and he was classified in 16th place at the chequered flag, 65 seconds behind runaway race-winner Theo Pourchaire (ART).
"That was a tough, tough weekend," Jack said.
"It was very unexpected. Unfortunately we have a fundamental issue that we're trying to get to the bottom of where we're a little bit too far outside of the window, be that balance-related or something that I'm doing."
Next up for Jack and the F2 grid is Saudi Arabia and the Jeddah Corniche Circuit on March 17-19, where Jack made his debut in the series at the tail-end of 2021 and finished fifth in the second of two sprint races.
Jack says he and the team are confident Bahrain can be a one-off.
"It's disappointing and unfortunate, but luckily it's round one and we have 13 rounds to go where we can get on top of this and make sure we come back," Jack said.
"I'm confident in the team and in myself, we proved last year that we're a race-winning combination and a championship-contending package.
"I'm sure we'll get to the bottom of it and get back to the pointy end of the field where we belong and start to score some big points."
FIA Formula 2 World Championship: Round 1 Bahrain results
Sprint race (23 laps): Started 17th, Finished 11th
Feature race (32 laps): Started 17th, Finished 16th
2023 F2 World Championship standings: 0 points (14th overall)
Next F2 event: Jeddah Corniche Circuit, Saudi Arabia (March 17-19)