Prema’s Jehan Daruvala made a strong start to his title challenge in the opening race of the season in Bahrain after what was a shaky Friday qualifying for the Indian. The 23-year-old Red Bull Junior managed a P2 podium-finish after starting P4 in the reverse-grid sprint race.
By Tyler Foster
The Mumbai-born driver made the move from Carlin to Prema in the off-season and was considered one of the title favourites coming into the season. Joining Prema always puts your name in lights, and for good reason; the Italian team have won both the Drivers’ and Teams’ Championships for the last two seasons. Meanwhile, this is Daruvala’s third season in F2, making a gradual improvement each year.
For the second year in a row, Daruvala opened his campaign with a P2 in Bahrain, however this performance came after a disappointing Friday qualifying session, where he only managed P7 with a last lap push.
“Yesterday was a bit of a messy session overall”, he told F1 Feeder Series and selected media. “I didn’t really doubt today that we had the pace to fight for the win.”
Daruvala managed to make his way into the podium spots on the first lap, before battling with Campos’ Ralph Boschung for second-place. This fight continued for several laps, with both drivers getting the better of each other. Finally, it was Daruvala who made a move stick and began to pull away. Unfortunately, this had taken too much life out of his Pirelli’s and he had to settle for P2.
“Definitely a lot of positives to take, first race of the year I’m P2. Definitely a good start, bit of mixed feelings. I think we had the pace to fight for the win. Unfortunately, in the start of the Virtual Safety Car, I mistimed the restart so I had to brake on the straight. Then I had a big fight with Ralph [Boschung]. We have a big race tomorrow, we have a lot of points up for grab. I’ll learn from what I did today and hopefully correct them for tomorrow.”
“Whatever happened, at some point thigs didn’t go my way in the race but we showed great pace throughout. I’m pretty confident for tomorrow as well: as long as I do a good job, stay out of trouble, be aggressive, make the right calls, again we can be up on the podium here tomorrow.”
The Indian finds himself at a crossroads this year, whereby his performance in the F2 Championship will decide his future in motorsport. This year is critical as he now has the experience to fight for the title, while also having the backing of both the Prema Powerteam, as well as the Red Bull Junior Team and their resources. If he wants to complete his F1 dream, he surely must at least finish in the top three come the end of the year.
We spoke to Daruvala after the race about how he feels he has re-settled into the Prema team he was previously with in F3.
“For me, I’ve obviously been with Prema in 2019 as well in my F3 campaign, so going back pretty much felt like going back to home. No trouble blending in. Obviously, there are a few different procedures and stuff that you have to get used to but that’s just part of the game I think. No excuses as such; they’ve been a champion team for the last two years. It feels really good to be here and I’m just trying to do my best.”
Daruvala will start seventh for Sunday’s Feature Race, with Virtuosi Racing’s Jack Doohan on Pole.
Header photo credit: Formula Motorsport Ltd
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