Jack Doohan started his Formula 2 career in perfect style after qualifying on pole position for Sunday’s Feature race in Bahrain.
The son of the five-time 500cc motorcycle champion used a near-empty circuit to his full advantage with a lightning-fast final sector that helped him guarantee pole, in spite of late improvements from championship favourite Theo Pourchaire and Jüri Vips.
After an intense morning session, it was time to go under the lights for the 30-minute Qualifying session, with two bonus points and pole position for the first Feature race of the season up for grabs.
At the green light, most of the 22 cars field roared out of the pits to begin their installation laps; however, they were quickly recalled back after Ayumu Iwasa spun at Turn 3 on cold tyres ending his session after just three corners.
Shortly after the marshals had removed Iwasa’s stricken DAMS, the session got back underway with just under 29 minutes on the clock.
One man who didn’t go out straight away was Felipe Drugovich, who remained in the pits whilst the remaining 20 runners resumed their installation laps.
The Brazilian who laid down the gauntlet in Practice eventually left the pits with just under 25 minutes left in Qualifying.
Jake Hughes was the first man to lay down a benchmark with a 1:41.469 on his first push lap, with Ralph Boschung over four-tenths back in second.
Dennis Hauger and Vips gave their teams a few heart attacks after the pair nearly collided near the pit entrance after Hauger inadvertently chopped Vips on a fast lap, slightly clipping the Estonian’s front wing in the process.
Doohan showcased his early speed in the UNI-Virtuosi machine with the second-fastest time of the session, but the Australian was still over a tenth down on Hughes.
Drugovich’s gamble to come out of the pits late had seemingly paid dividends as he managed to briefly knock Hughes off the top of the timesheets with a 1:41.210. But just after his time was recorded, Hughes responded and set a 1:41.121 to go back in front as the majority of the field returned to the pits for a fresh set of tyres.
Jehan Daruvala was one of the few drivers who stayed out on track, with the Indian moving up to fifth on his first lap whilst teammate Hauger could only manage 13th.
Doohan made full use of the clear track as he knocked Hughes off the top of the timesheets with a superb 1:40.542, over half a second quicker than Hughes and over six tenths faster than Drugovich.
With just 10 minutes left in the session, the majority of the field returned to the track in order to begin their final quick laps.
Vips and Pourchaire went close to knocking the Australian off pole position, but neither could get the job with Vips managing second but over two tenths down whilst Pourchaire’s time was deleted because of track limit infringements at Turn 4, tumbling the young Frenchman down to 14th.
Pourchaire wouldn’t be in 14th for too long, as his next run was good enough for second, but over a tenth down on Doohan, who secured his first pole position in Formula 2 ahead of Pourchaire and Vips with Logan Sargeant fourth for Carlin.
Ralph Boschung and Liam Lawson would fill out row three ahead of Daruvala and Hughes, with Verschoor and Drugovich completing the top 10.