Indian racer Jehan Daruvala put in a stirring drive from 11th to second in the Formula 2 feature race here on Sunday before he was robbed of his sixth podium of the season due a post-race penalty.
Jehan had finished a provisional second after an inspired strategy call to start the race on slick tyres on a damp track. The searing pace from the Red Bull-backed racer in the tricky conditions saw him make rapid progress up the field.
But a 20-second time penalty, handed out after stewards deemed the Prema Racing team had attempted to dry the track surface at Jehan’s grid spot, negated his brilliant run.
The penalty was all the more disappointing as Jehan was briefly in with a chance of inheriting the race win after provisional winner Richard Verschoor was disqualified for a fuel irregularity.
He was eventually classified 12th, which meant zero points from the weekend. He had finished out of points in the sprint race.
“I’m absolutely gutted. All season luck has been against us and just when I thought things were finally going our way we get hit with a penalty,” said Jehan.
“We did everything right today. I was expecting a tough race from 11th on the grid and, while it was tricky, we read the conditions perfectly today. The team made the right strategy call on the tyres and I was able to maximise it with my pace in the wet.
“It’s difficult to find the positives after having a result we fought hard for taken away from us in this fashion. We could have taken big points off our rivals today but I can still take encouragement from my pace today.”
He remains fourth in the standings with 80 points.
“We now have a weekend off before the next run of back-to-back races and it’s now full focus on Paul Ricard and Budapest. We just need to keep pushing and I’m sure our day will come,” Jehan added.
The penalty in Austria was the latest in a series of Sunday misfortunes that have cost Jehan a strong result in feature races this season.
An ill-timed safety car cost him a potential victory in Imola. In Barcelona, an electrical problem sidelined Jehan on the fourth lap just when he was ideally placed to benefit from running the alternative strategy.