Alpine reserve driver Jack Doohan will be thrust into the spotlight this weekend at the Canadian Grand Prix when he takes over Esteban Ocon’s A524 for the opening free practice session Friday in Montreal.

This marks Doohan’s first taste of FP1 action this season, but it comes under intriguing circumstances.

The Australian prospect is no rookie to Alpine’s Friday practices. He enjoyed outings in Mexico and in Abu Dhabi last year, fulfilling F1’s mandate that compels teams to run a young driver in at least two practice sessions throughout the season.

However, the decision to hand Doohan an outing in Ocon’s car comes in the aftermath of Alpine’s frustrating Monaco Grand Prix, where a first-lap collision between Pierre Gasly and his teammate resulted in the latter’s retirement and a severe dressing-down by team boss Bruno Famin.

While not the sole factor, it is believed the incident played a role in Ocon and Alpine’s decision to part ways at the end of the season.

“In Canada, we have decided to use the first mandatory young driver Free Practice 1, with Jack Doohan in the car in place of Esteban, giving him the opportunity to get behind the wheel of the A524,” explained Famin.

“With Jack’s great work in the simulator in recent races, we can count on his valuable feedback in Montréal.”

With his sights set firmly on a Formula 1 race seat in 2025, Doohan will be looking to make the most of his FP1 opportunity with Alpine.

Having chosen to forgo another season in Formula 2 to hone his skills with the Enstone squad, a standout performance could be the key to filling Ocon’s vacant seat with the French manufacturer next year.

“Really excited to get out on track in Montréal for FP1,” said the 21-year-old Aussie.

“It will be my first time driving at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve, which I am looking forward to.

“I am grateful to the team for the opportunity to get more track time, and also familiarise myself with 2024 machinery early in the season.

“This will also help with the work I am doing in the simulator, particularly at the European rounds.

“My focus will be on doing the best for the team and maximising the session for both drivers, looking at certain test items and understanding the new track surface.”

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