These are the last opportunities for teams to field rookies this year, as Brazil is a sprint race and thus FP1 is followed by qualifying in the afternoon.
It is understood that formal confirmation of Doohan’s outings was delayed by issues surrounding the formal finalization of Oscar Piastr’s departure. The latter was due to complete an Alpine FP1 run this year, but that naturally became unrealistic when his move to McLaren was confirmed.
UPDATE: Doohan’s FP1 drive in Mexico City this Friday in place of Esteban Ocon was confirmed on Tuesday, although there was no mention of Alpine’s Abu Dhabi plans.
Doohan has prepared for his run with outings in Alpine’s 2021 car, including one in Budapest last month in the same session where Nyck de Vries and Antonio Giovinazzi drove the car. He also got a brief experience with the current car on the day of filming in Monza.
Doohan is well-respected in the Alpine camp and was seen as a possible plan B should the team fail to secure the services of Pierre Gasly for 2023.
He entered the frame with a strong rookie F2 season after winning the sprints at Silverstone and Hungary and the feature race at Spa. He is currently fourth in the points table.
Doohan said: “I’m extremely grateful to Alpine for giving me this opportunity to drive in free practice in Mexico. It’s always a great honor to drive a Formula 1 car, so the opportunity on a Grand Prix weekend is very special.
“At the end of the day, the goal is to do this every week and this experience is another step closer to achieving that goal. I have prepared as well as I can and I think it will be very exciting to experience the car in this type of way on the circuit at a high and very high top speed.
“I work hard during the day, I do everything the team plans and at the same time I enjoy the moment because I know it will be a unique opportunity.”
Jack Doohan, Virtuosi Racing
Photographer: Formula Motorsport Ltd
With Gasly and Ocon now safely in the Enstone camp, it remains to be seen what Doohan’s options will be next year and beyond.
Some of the other teams are yet to confirm who will fill their final FP1 spots, with both Red Bull Racing and AlphaTaur still having one more practice.
Liam Lawson is a candidate for both seats, assuming De Vries is not an option in Abu Dhabi due to his ongoing Mercedes commitments. The Dutchman still has one practice session in the W13 series in Mexico.
Other FP1 rides still to come include Pietro Fittipaldi (Haas, Mexico and Abu Dhabi), Pato O’Ward (McLaren, Abu Dhabi), Felipe Drugovich (Aston Martin, Abu Dhabi), Robert Shwartzman (Ferrari, Abu Dhabi) and Logan Sargeant (Williams, Mexico and Abu Dhabi).
Many of the drivers who have completed FP1 sessions this year will also be involved in rookie testing, which will take place in Abu Dhabi after the race weekend, which is also part of Pirelli’s preparations for 2023. It is understood that De Vries will be free to drive the AlphaTauri then at the latest.