Daruvala a step closer to realising F1 dream

Jehan Daruvala, 21, got a boost this year when he was signed by F1 giant Red Bull Racing for its prestigious junior driver programme.

Jehan Daruvala

Jehan Daruvala finished the 2019 F3 season with 157 points, with a total of seven podiums in addition to two fastest laps and a pole position.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

India’s motorsport community has waited long for its next top-flight driver. Finally, there are promising signs: this weekend, Jehan Daruvala will take another crucial step on the ladder to Formula One when he makes his Formula 2 debut at the Austrian GP, supporting the main F1 race.

The 21-year-old, who was identified by the Sahara Force India team for its young driver programme, got a boost this year when he was signed by F1 giant Red Bull Racing for its prestigious junior driver programme.

In pre-season testing in Bahrain, Daruvala, driving for Carlin Racing, topped the timesheets twice and showed consistent long-run pace before the coronavirus pandemic delayed the start of the season.

Not ideal

“This is not an ideal situation because we were not even sure whether the season would start or not. So I am as prepared as one could be but it is the same for everyone,” Daruvala told Sportstar ahead of his debut.

He finished third in the F3 championships last year and was in the title hunt until the last race of the season, a performance which helped him land the coveted seat in the Red Bull junior programme.

READ | Hamilton says 'silence' criticism was not aimed at F1 rivals

When asked if there is more pressure, given Red Bull’s reputation for being ruthless in chopping drivers, Daruvala said, “It is quite a nice position to be in because it is not easy to be a part of it. So I am just going to focus on getting the best result on track and hopefully realise my eventual dream of getting to F1.”

Validation

Rayomand Banajee, his coach and mentor from the karting days, added, “Being part of Red Bull brings additional pressure but Jehan is unfazed by external pressures. It was crucial to get this deal especially after the Force India door closed and this is an even better validation of his credentials to be picked by a race-winning F1 team.”

100

Jehan Daruvala spent two and half months at home in Mumbai before leaving for the U.K. in May.   -  File Photo/ Special Arrangement

 

Daruvala spent two and half months at home in Mumbai before leaving for the U.K. in May in one of the repatriation flights to be prepared for the eventuality of the season starting in Europe.

ALSO READ | No Orange Army as Verstappen chases Austrian hat-trick

“I took the right call in coming back to the U.K. early just to be ready and have been able to practise at both the Red Bull and Carlin simulators. It has helped and I was able to do a test with an F3 car in Silverstone just to get back in the groove.”

Commenting on the new procedures pertaining to physical distancing and team bubbles, Daruvala said, “I think it won’t be difficult to deal with those things. It will be different not to speak to drivers from other teams and virtual driver meetings, but we should be on top of it after the first few sessions.”

Support Sportstar


Dear Reader,

Support our journalism — where text and pictures intermingle so seamlessly — and help us scale up your experience as the world changes around us. Your contribution is vital to our brand of uninfluenced, boots-on-the-ground reportage that’s worth your while. Clickbait sensationalism is not for us, but editorial independence is — we owe it to you.

Read the Free eBook

  Dugout videos