FP1 debutant Doohan reflects on ‘emotional’ Mexico City outing as De Vries signs off with Mercedes
Jack Doohan took his Grand Prix weekend bow in Mexico City, stepping into the Alpine of Esteban Ocon as he made his Free Practice 1 debut.
Doohan – son of five-time 500cc motorcycling world champion Mick Doohan – headed out on track behind the wheel of the A522, clocking up 13 laps before “anomalies” on his Renault power unit saw his session foreshortened.
Despite that, though, the 19-year-old Australian was still buzzing when he faced the media on Friday afternoon.
“It was very cool!” said Doohan. “I just obviously have to say a huge thank you to Alpine and all the boys and girls there for giving me this opportunity. It’s something I’ll cherish forever and remember. Obviously we had a small issue after the first run that meant that we couldn’t continue, but I’m still very grateful for the laps I got and it was an amazing experience.
“Once I was in the car, there was obviously a little bit of emotion and feeling, but the lead up, I was quite content; I knew that this was happening for quite a while and it gave me plenty of time to prepare. So it wasn’t a shock to the system, and I was very happy before getting into the car, and being in the car.”
Doohan wound up 19th in the session, having only run the hard tyre at the famously slippery Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez track – but he was at least satisfied at having achieved his objective of keeping his car out of the wall.
“I think [I did] six fast laps on the hard tyre on the first run. From that start, obviously, it was very slippery out there and I was just gradually building up, running through what we had to run through and taking it, obviously, very easy as I didn’t want to put the car or anything at risk.
“I was happy with how it went. We seemed to be all on the same level with the team. It would have been good to get some more laps, but I’m still very happy to be on track and have this experience.”
Meanwhile, it was also an emotional FP1 experience for Mercedes reserve Nyck de Vries in what was his final Grand Prix weekend outing with the Silver Arrows before switching to a full-time seat in 2023 with AlphaTauri – the Italian team running Liam Lawson in FP1, as Haas ran Pietro Fittipaldi and Williams put in Logan Sargeant.
“It was indeed [emotional] and I’m very happy,” said De Vries. “We ended it well, I enjoyed the session, we had three great years together – actually it was four but the first year was a bit unofficial.
“But we had a good time together and I’m very grateful for all the opportunities the team has given me. I’ve learned a lot, I’ve built up personal relationships within the team and the relationship is still good. So I’m just grateful for that, and now I’m obviously looking forward to the next chapter in my career.”