Virtuosi Racing had to navigate plenty of misfortune in the opening two rounds of the 2022 FIA Formula 2 season, but managed to maximise their potential thanks to some brilliant recovery work from Jack Doohan.
Round 1 - Sakhir
Doohan got his season off to an excellent start in the opener at Sakhir by taking Virtuosi’s fourth successive Round 1 pole.
The Australian Alpine junior took pole thanks to some ingenuity from the Norfolk-based team, who decided to run Doohan during the gap, with the majority of the field busy changing their tyres.
After setting a personal best Sector 1, Doohan went on to set two purple sectors to take provisional pole by more than half a second with an emphatic time of 1:40.542, before returning to the pits.
There was little movement during a quiet opening race of the season at Sakhir, as neither Doohan nor Marino Sato managed to improve on their starting positions in a measured Sprint Race.
The bad luck began in the Feature Race as the Australian racer was taken out of contention while in provisional lead of the race. Running first out of the prime strategy drivers, Doohan was forced into a second pitstop after a collision left him requiring a new front wing.
Undeterred, Doohan fought back heroically after being dumped at the back of the grid to take the final points’ position.
Starting from 14th, Marino Sato enjoyed a positive race as the Japanese racer managed to make up two places to finish 12th.
Round 2 – Jeddah
Travelling to Jeddah less than a week later for the second round of the F2 season, Virtuosi’s fighting spirit was on display once again.
Doohan reserved enough tread on his tyres in a stop-start Qualifying session on Friday to set a strong late lap. With less than a minute on the clock, the Australian found the pace to leap up to third.
However, Doohan was later disqualified from the session as the several red flag periods left him without enough fuel in the tank. The Australian was then taken out of contention in the Sprint Race following a collision with Carlin’s Logan Sargeant.
This left Sato as Virtuosi’s sole chance at points. The Japanese driver had started in 13th and put on a great effort. With only a few competitive racing laps due to three lengthy Safety Car delays, Sato was able to make it up to P10, only narrowly missing out on the points.
Starting from the back of the grid in the Feature Race at Jeddah, Doohan had his eyes on producing another recovery drive. Utilizing the alternate strategy, Doohan brilliantly sieved his way through the field to make it up to second after the first round of pit stops.
Maxing out his medium tyres, the Alpine junior held onto second before heading into the pits with three laps to go. Remerging in 10th, the Alpine junior won out in a battle with Vips to take P9. Sato endured a tougher afternoon, finishing in 16th.
The FIA Formula 2 Championship will resume for Round 3 at Imola on April 22-24. Prior to that, F2 testing will take place in Barcelona on April 12-14.
"P20 to P9 was the best we could do [in the Feature Race]. Going for the alternative strategy we were hoping for a late safety car that unfortunately never came. Our pace was strong however, setting the fastest lap by half a second. The disqualification hurt us badly this weekend, but I'm sure Virtuosi and I will bounce back to where we belong in Imola."
“We learn and work from there, and we will come back stronger. Big thank you to Virtuosi for all their hard work.”