Jack Doohan, Formula 3 race winner. “It has a nice ring to it,” smiles the Australian in reply. “But I would love to say it more than once this year.”
Still just 18-years-old, and now in his fourth season of single-seater racing, Doohan admits there were times during 2020 when he questioned whether he was doing the right thing. In 18 races with HWA RACELAB, Doohan failed to score a single point and never finished higher than 11th.
Switching to Trident for the 2021 campaign, Doohan now has seven points' finishes from nine races, including three podiums and a first win in Round 2 at Le Castellet. He’s firmly in the title hunt and is no longer asking himself those questions.
“After last year, the win meant a lot,” said Doohan. “The podium in Barcelona beforehand did as well but nothing compares to a win, especially a Race 3 win - the main race of the weekend.
“After all the difficulties of last year, all of the hard work and how much it mentally drained me - figuring out if I was good enough for this and if I was doing the right thing - to have everything fall into place with that first win, to show my potential and show what I can do, all of the emotions kind of came out.
“It is still quite early on in the season and that means more opportunities to make it happen again. I’m hoping we will. We still have four rounds to go.”
Doohan’s famous surname means he carries more pressure than the ordinary driver. His father is five-time Moto GP World Champion Mick Doohan and although Jack opted for four-wheels over two, the success of his title-laden father remains a metaphorical measuring stick.
Especially since his father followed him to Europe, the pair leaving the rest of the Doohans behind in Australia. The sacrifices his father has made aren’t lost on Jack, who was able to celebrate with his dad after the race.
“Yeah, my dad was joyed as well,” said Doohan. “Last year was not just hard for me, but for him too. Last year didn't meet expectations for the sacrifices that he is making for me and my career.
“Australia is quite a way away, so moving himself over here, doing his work remotely and splitting my family up, that is a huge sacrifice. So, for last year to then happen as it did, just made it all feel like a bit of a waste, like everything had just gone down the drain.
“To now finally be on the right path, with the podiums and the win in Paul Ricard, my dad was overwhelmed with joy because he is working his butt off and doing everything that he can to give me the career path that I want, and that win showed that it is paying off.”
Despite scoring his first F3 points in Race 2 of the opening Round in Barcelona, Doohan said that the Saturday of that weekend was “terrible.” To have only scored one points' finish from two races after qualifying second wasn’t good enough, he believed especially as his teammate, Clément Novalak, took a podium in the first race.
My dad was overwhelmed with joy because he is working his butt off and doing everything that he can to give me the career path that I want
The Red Bull junior played a starring role in both post and pre-season testing, consistently running towards the top with Trident, as well as setting the fastest time overall in Jerez during post-season last October.
Those results set a precedent, but a clutch issue in Race 1 denied Doohan a top 10 finish and in turn made the second race a lot harder.
“The race format is interesting, but it is tricky, and it meant that I was out of the reverse grid for Race 2,” continued Doohan. “I only scored three points from the Saturday and in reality that should have been a 12-point plus day.
“Thankfully, we scored second in Race 3 and that got us 18 points, which meant we weren’t too far behind in the Championship standings at the end of Round 1.”
The fact that Doohan went on to clinch a podium in Race 3 is as much down to his improved mental state as it is improvements on track. Previously he would have carried his Saturday frustrations into the Sunday, but not this year. He simply dusted himself off and went again.
It’s partly down to the help of his coach. That, and the fact he’s naturally maturing as a person.
“I have quite a good trainer that I am working with, both physically and mentally,” he continued. “It is about staying calm and structuring my weekends better - being organised and having clear goals. Putting everything into words helps me. That way nothing is unturned, nothing pops out, and all situations are analysed.
“You have to be realistic because you cannot control everything, but if you are as prepared as possible, then when situations arise that are out of your control, it becomes easier to either rationalise them or forget about them.”
And of course, his dad’s vast experience certainly helps.
“From a young age, my dad has always tried to help me on the mental side of things,” said Doohan. “He has tried to help with the areas that I have struggled with throughout my short career so far in junior formulas. It has helped to have the help of someone else now as well as my dad, and between us, we are putting it all together.
“My dad has done it all before but on a premier class level, winning five world championships - you don't do that easily. He had all the tools, and obviously hasn't forgotten them, so he is passing them on to me. It’s a different discipline, but I think the same characteristics apply.”