Now in his second year with the Alpine Academy, Jack Doohan has stepped up as Reserve Driver for the BWT Alpine F1 Team, alongside competing in FIA Formula 2 with Invicta Virtuosi. Ready to jump in the car if needed Jack plays an important role within the team, taking on a variety of additional responsibilities from media activations to test days and ongoing simulator work. We caught up with him in Miami to capture a snapshot of his weekend duties as BWT Alpine F1 Team’s Reserve Driver.
Friday, 05 May
Following the Miami Grand Prix, Jack tested the race-winning A521 car at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza before heading to Barcelona for FIA Formula 2 in-season testing. To prepare for the switch between the Eastern Daylight and Central European time zones Jack made sure to wake up early whilst in Miami to make the transition back to Europe easier.
Waking up early, Jack spent his morning training before playing a few games of chess to prepare himself physically and mentally should he need to step up in his role as Reserve Driver. After a quick shower and some breakfast, he then met up with BWT Alpine F1 Team driver Esteban Ocon to head to the Miami International Autodrome together.
What does your role as a Reserve Driver entail?
“Over the season my job is to make sure I am always ready should I need to jump in the A523 and fulfil my position as Reserve Driver. When I am with the team at a race I shadow the drivers in all briefings and sessions to learn as much as possible, providing input from a driving perspective when I can. I always try and speak with Pierre and Esteban’s engineers to see how things are going and what areas they are focusing on over the weekend. I also talk to Ciaron, the Head of Trackside Engineering, for an overview of his perspective on the weekend and I speak to Anda, the Tyre Performance Engineer a lot too. I generally try to speak to everyone and keep myself in the loop in all areas. From my point of view, from the observation perspective, I like to see what is going either well or not so well and see how it contributes to what's happening on track.
Away from race-related commitments I also do as many activations in the form of media and marketing events – as much as I can in order to take some of the strain off the race drivers, so they can focus on racing and performing on track. I did quite a bit of simulator work for the team last year and I’ve done a bit this year. It's harder to find the time to do simulator work now that I’m the Reserve Driver as well as racing in F2, but I try to jump in the simulator when I can.”
As part of his Marketing duties as the team’s Reserve Driver Jack held a meet and greet with BWT Alpine F1 Team’s invited guests, including our friends at Berluti, whilst Pierre and Esteban were out on track for Free Practice 1. He then stopped by the Paddock Club before another meet and greet with the Renault Group at Turn 18 in-between driver briefings.
How did you feel when you found out you were going to be the 2023 Reserve Driver?
“It was an exciting time. Being the Reserve Driver this year is pretty cool. If you had told me that last year, I would have done absolutely anything to be in the position I am in now. I can’t wait for the full-time drive when that comes.”
What are some of the things you’ve learned so far in this role?
“How many people are involved to make this all work. For two cars and two drivers, it’s amazing to see how much it takes to really make everything come together. I’m super grateful to be involved and get the opportunity to listen to all the engineers, to be in communication with them and learn. They are all people I massively look up to so to be in regular contact with them is awesome.”
Saturday, 06 May
Sitting in on programme meetings and drivers’ debriefs over the weekend, Jack used his time with the team in Miami to learn as much as possible as the team’s Reserve Driver, watching track sessions and observing the track side engineering team.
Continuing with his duties, on Saturday Jack made an appearance at the F1 Experiences Champions Club in between strategy meetings and driver debriefs. Being on track with the Formula 1 team, Jack also took the chance to catch-up with childhood friend Mick Schumacher, former Alpine Academy driver Zhou Guyanu and Indycar’s Marcus Armstrong in between sessions.
As you progress as a driver you get more media duties, responsibilities and appearances, what is that like?
“It’s new for sure, having these commitments that you didn’t have before, but it’s great. When it becomes normal and you’re not getting nervous for it anymore you’re able to enjoy the process and enjoy the time you are there, that makes it a lot easier. I really liked being in the Paddock Club this weekend. The fans are awesome and it’s a cool way to support and contribute to the team.”
After two days of team meetings and driver debriefs in between media appearances, Jack’s weekend culminated with the last big on-track event before Sunday’s race. Jack watched along with team strategists and engineers for the Miami Grand Prix qualifying session, paying close attention to any successful updates.
You’ve been part of the Alpine Academy for over a year now, can you tell us about your journey and your experience with the team?
“It has been amazing, I joined the Alpine Academy for the opportunities that they were giving me and the possibility to learn and progress as a driver. The work I have been able to do within the Formula 1 team and getting the opportunity to have my first taste of Formula 1 machinery last year, have been incredible. Last season I was able to join the F1 team for the last few rounds which was amazing and gave me such a good foundation for this year coming in as a full time Reserve Driver. It has prepared me as much as possible for testing and the potential opportunity to drive in F1. I'm super grateful for everything they’ve done and excited to keep continuing with the team.”
Over a typical race weekend, Jack usually leaves the track around 19:30-20:00. After Saturday afternoon’s qualifying session in Miami, he joined the team for a session debrief and strategy summary meeting before getting a taxi to the airport to fly back to the UK and prepare ahead of his tests in Monza and Barcelona.