Last year’s FIA Formula 3 championship runner-up Jack Doohan has joined the Alpine academy from Red Bull as Olli Caldwell also joins the French setup ahead of Formula 2 promotions.
Doohan was second to fellow Red Bull junior Dennis Hauger in F3 last season but will now be part of the Alpine academy ahead of his first full-time season in F2 with Virtuosi Racing. For Caldwell — eighth in F3 last year — there will be a similar step up with Campos, as the pair form part of a four-driver academy alongside Caio Collet and Victor Martins.
The quartet follow a number of Alpine success stories in 2021 as Oscar Piastri won the F2 title and has become the Formula 1 team’s reserve driver, while Guanyu Zhou will race for Alfa Romeo and Christian Lundgaard has moved to IndyCar. Although the academy has yet to produce a driver for the Alpine F1 team, Doohan says the development opportunities it provides is what led him to choose to leave Red Bull.
“F1 is obviously the ultimate goal but I think the Alpine program for me – spending obviously the last few years with Red Bull, which was good, but in the short time that I’ve worked with Alpine I think they’re a program that regardless of the end goal of Formula 1 aim to make you into a better driver by teaching you more,” Doohan said.
“From F1 tests to working with the team to being able to speak to the engineers, you’ve got all this information you can take that’s available with you to go forward and ultimately help you become a better driver and F1-ready. At the end of the season, if you’ve done a good job, Oscar will get his opportunity but if you’ve won a championship or come close to then it’s not just Alpine but other F1 teams are going to be looking at you as well.
“They’re giving us the opportunity to then progress forward and be able to become a professional at what we do. I think that’s the main part of it, becoming a better driver going forward, whether in F1 or like Christian in IndyCar and Zhou as well went to Alfa Romeo.
“I think there’s a lot of people that say, ‘Yeah but they haven’t had someone promote into the Formula 1 team.’ but everyone that’s been in Formula 2 or their program, you can’t diss them that they aren’t a good driver or they haven’t grown while they’ve been here.”
The son of five-time 500CC motorcycle world champion Mick, Doohan says he had the straight choice to stay at Red Bull or switch to Alpine, but that a potential future F1 seat wasn’t the only consideration.
“Just the layout of the program and what it’s going to do for me to become a better driver (made the difference). Obviously Red Bull had that, but if it was the same I wouldn’t have moved. I don’t want to touch on that too much, but there was just a really good path for me to actually become a better driver regardless of the end goal, to learn as much as possible and get valuable time that you can’t get anywhere else and that I hadn’t been getting.
“It’s coming to a point where it’s make-or-break in Formula 2 and there’s nothing really to go back on, so I had to make the decision what I wanted to do to become a better driver, and Alpine was that.
“In my limited time with the program, already I’m enjoying that a lot and I honestly can’t wait to continue to build and build the relationships, because I’m obviously still a very fresh face and everyone else is a fresh face for me too; but at the moment everyone’s amazing and I’m enjoying being here a lot.”