Ahead of the FIA F3 finale in Sochi, the title contenders Dennis Hauger and Jack Doohan sat down with select media including Formula Scout’s Craig Woollard. They talked tyres, biting each other’s heads off and more…
What are your general thoughts heading into the weekend and what will your approach be?
Dennis Hauger: “I think heading into this weekend, I’ll keep my mindset the same as always. We had a good weekend at Zandvoort, ended it on a high and just have to keep that momentum going into this weekend. We just have to take it race by race and get the points really at this moment. Oviously focusing on qualifying tomorrow and then take it from there until the races. It’s going to be mixed weather, it seems, so it can be interesting to see how it is, and how it develops. I’m just enjoying it and not worrying or overthinking anything.”
Jack Doohan: “I think I’m quite excited to get the weekend underway. With still being in reach of the title, it motivates me to try to make the maximum of the weekend. Obviously, that’s always the same approach every weekend, but I think it is a reach, but one that’s possible.
“The weather looks good, wet or dry, so I’m quite happy with that, I don’t really mind. I’m just really looking forward to getting to drive because everything I’ve that seen about it [Sochi] I’ve really liked, so I can’t wait to drive.”
What are your thoughts on each other? Are you friends away from the track or prepared to bite each other’s heads off?
[No one volunteers to answer]
JD: “I have a huge respect for Dennis. We started our first year of cars together as team-mates in British Formula 4 and the rivalry was quite great throughout that season. I think the relationship is quite mutual, there’s no negatives, I think you could call us mates. We’re not on any bad terms or anything, but in the end we’re both racing drivers and I’m sure in the off-season if we were to catch up, we’d get along great and have a good time.
“But for now, we both want to win and there’s a certain level depending on how dedicated you are to where your mindset is going to be on a race weekend. We’re here to do a job and do what we love, and there is only one way to succeed at that. And no, if something happened, I wouldn’t go biting his head off!”
DH: “Yeah, for sure [the feeling’s mutual]. We started our formula career together and we both have matured since then as well. And I think we’re good at separating what is happening on and off track, and also on-track we drive fairly with each other in that sense. So it’s good, and we both are doing what we love in the end and are having a good time of it, so it’s nice.”
How much confidence has the Red Bull affiliation instilled into you during this campaign?
DH: “I mean in the end we have reports and everything we have to give to Red Bull, plus with the team itself, and the F3 teams, and that’s where the work we put in is. I’m in Italy working with the team in meetings and simulator and everything, and at the end of the day that’s where the details go into. But being a part of [Red Bull] is good, and nice, but you have to prove yourself and prove your position in it as well, so working with the team to maximise everything is the main thing there.”
JD: “What he said. It’s a bonus because you don’t move forward without succeeding, and that’s what they want, and that’s what they need. They don’t make an academy for someone to be there and make up the numbers, they want someone to potentially take one of their seats in Formula 1, and that has to be done by being at the front and winning races. I’m very happy to have their support and the backing makes me feel… It’s a good feeling knowing that if you’re doing the job correctly that there is a path for you to move forward.”
Are you sure of what your futures look like heading into next season?
DH: “No, nothing’s signed yet. But the natural step after going so well this season is F2, that’s what we’re aiming at. A few things have to come together before you can share anything like that, but it’s the goal.”
JD: “Same as Dennis. We’re looking at F2, but nothing signed, anywhere near yet. A few things have to come together, and hopefully we can sort things out over the weekend and in the next few weeks to ensure a good chance for next year.”
We’ve got the hard tyre on a low-abrasion circuit. What are your thoughts, if they’ll be needed given the weather forecast?
JD: “To be honest, actually the difference between the hard compound tyre over a lap and over a qualifying stint is worse than the soft tyre, as the hard compound tyre works very well under low pressure. Especially over the way that the hard tyre works because it doesn’t really degrade on actual tyre level, it just overheats, so it overheats quite easily and then it makes it more difficult at the end of the lap. Whereas the soft tyre can go longer and maintain its grip for over the lap. But in the end, its actual wear level is higher.
“It sounds weird but you can do more laps on the soft tyre with managing it, but with the hard tyre it’s very hard to. And for a race situation, the degradation is thermal so at least we can manage that a bit better ourselves and if the tyre does start to go out of the window, you can get it back in the window. Whereas on the soft compound once the tyre’s worn, it’s worn.”
DH: “Back in 2019 when they were on softs, there was some wear but it’s quite a bit thermal. Should be interesting to see. It’s been the same most of the races this year, when the temperatures go up in the tyres, it degrades quite quickly. So I think that will be key as well.
“It’s a bit different with the hard compound, and also so for the qualifying how many push laps we can do compared to the soft compound. It changes up some things, but in the end it’s not the worst track in terms of grip. When the rubber goes down it’s not the worst track in terms of grip, because of the roughness, so we’ll have to see. I’ve never raced here, so we’ll see how the grip is when we get out there. I think in the end you can push quite a bit around there although the track is long.”
The final question from Formula Scout, and a straightforward one: what would it mean to be 2021 FIA Formula 3 champion?
JD: “It would mean everything to me and to everyone who has supported me to get to this point. It definitely hasn’t been a very straight road or smooth, so I’d be very happy and ecstatic to know that the hard work is paying off and to know that the support that everyone’s putting in and the sacrifice. That is obviously more for us Aussies being so far away from everything. So, it would mean everything to know that it’s paying off.
“Equally, I’d have to be just as proud with second, to know that it hasn’t been a perfect season, so things could have gone our way a bit better on a few occasions, but then you also have to look at yourself and see where you could do better. It couldn’t mean less or more than everything.”
DH: “Obviously it means everything, you put your lives into it. So that’s a goal that you’ve been reaching for the whole season and working hard for with the team. Especially after a season like last year, which was quite tough, especially mentally, it would be really meaning [a lot].
“It’s an important year as well, so that it’s going well is an important for me as a driver as well, to keep moving forward. To sum it up, it means everything!”