Jack Doohan’s hopes of snatching the Formula 2 title are all but over after he was caught up in an amateurish crash at the feature race in the Netherlands.
The Australian started second on the grid behind Felipe Drugovich and was right in the mix for the win after changing his tyres and attempting an undercut on the championship leader.
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But disaster struck halfway through the race at Zandvoort during a race restart following a safety car period.
Race leader Liam Lawson made the perplexing decision to slow to a crawl while approaching the start line, resulting in the whole field bunching up right behind him.
Doohan was in ninth at the time and got rear-ended by Clement Novalak, forcing the Aussie to spin and crash into the wall.
Commentator Alex Jacques said: “That is bitter disappointment for Jack Doohan, who was staring at a battle with Felipe Drugovich and he will not score points after a dramatic safety car restart where he found himself into the wall and out of the race.”
Expert commentator Alex Brundle added: “That was totally random. That was a total lottery who retired from the race and who’s made it through there.
“What a disaster for Jack Doohan in a way he doesn’t deserve to be. He’s just completely minding his own business waiting for the restart.”
It was a cruel and frustrating way for Doohan’s race to end prematurely, given he did nothing wrong.
Motorsport fans criticised Lawson for causing the chaos by accelerating extremely late at the race restart.
The incident prompted the third safety car of a bizarre feature race after Logan Sargeant slammed into a wall and Marino Sato lost control of his car.
Drugovich went on to win the race, meaning he now has one hand on the championship trophy and can wrap up the F2 title next weekend at Monza, Italy.
He now leads Theo Pourchaire by 70 points in the overall F2 standings.
Doohan was in great form coming off his maiden feature race win in Belgium last week and was making a late charge for the title — but his championship hopes are up in smoke after the unfortunate crash.
The 19-year-old, who is the son of MotoGP legend Mick Doohan, had even been mentioned as a possible option for Alpine’s spare F1 seat after Fernando Alonso’s switch to Aston Martin and reserve driver Oscar Piastri signed with McLaren.