Jehan Daruvala: This year could be a defining season for me

Jehan Daruvala, the 20-year-old racer from Mumbai, is likely to be associated with the Racing Point F1, the outfit that has taken over the erstwhile Force India.

For 2019, Jehan Daruvala (in picture) will switch from Carlin Racing to Prema Racing.

After a tough season in the FIA European F3, 20-year-old Indian driver Jehan Daruvala will now be part of the new FIA F3 championship that will replace the GP3 series for the 2019 season as he tries to forge his way into the world of Formula One.

A lot is riding on Daruvala to keep the country on the Formula One map, especially after India’s last F1 connection ended last year; Vijay Mallya-owned Force India F1 team, with whom the Mumbai-based driver has been associated with since 2011, had gone out of business.

However, one good news for Daruvala is that the youngster is close to an agreement to be connected with the Racing Point F1 team, the entity that took over the erstwhile Force India team. He will still be able to have some chance to dome simulator sessions and work closely with an F1 team.

Eye on title

For 2019, Daruvala will switch from Carlin Racing to Prema Racing, a powerhouse team in the junior single-seater categories.

Read | Pressure is on Vettel to deliver in 2019, says Rosberg

Speaking to Sportstar, Daruvala said, “Every season is important but this could be a defining season for me. If everything shapes up well, I honestly want to be fighting for the title this year.”

Read | K. P. Aravind sets sights on Dakar 2020

Despite two years already in the European F3, Daruvala, who was part of the Force India’s young driver academy, has opted to stick with the new F3 championship than move up to F2. “I had a chance to do F2 but I have chosen to do one more year in F3 because I get to be with a top team like Prema than to do F2 just for the sake of it. I feel this will help me in the future when I make the step up,” he said.

‘Good learning opportunity’

An advantage of doing the new F3 series will be that it will be run as a support to the F1 races and gives an opportunity to showcase his talent to the F1 teams on the grid. “While it is a bigger stage, I don’t think it makes much of a difference for me once the racing starts. What will help is the fact that we will be racing with spec cars, including the halo-protection device, run on Pirelli tyres and unlimited DRS, which would be a good learning opportunity for me,” said Daruvala.

The first half of last year was a good one for Daruvala, where he was just 42.5 points behind the championship leader despite having the third or fourth best car on the grid. However, the second half of the season was far from ideal; he could add only 25 points to his tally despite having comprehensively outscored his team-mates.

“Throughout the year, we were not good enough to fight with Prema or Motopark, and the top six were mostly between those drivers. I feel I improved in terms of speed and consistency last year though in the second half, we had some bad luck through suspension failures and crashes that hurt us,” explained Daruvala about his 2018 season when he had four podium finishes and a win.