Every Indian motor racing fan still remembers their national anthem playing when Jehan Daruvala stood on the top step of the podium following his maiden win in a Formula 2 (F2) event at Bahrain last season. After ending last season on a high, Daruavala began 2021 on a similar note, with a podium finish in the first of two Bahrain GP sprint races.
Jehan Daruvala started fourth on the grid in the morning's sprint race. Putting last year's experience of the series to good use, he put on a measured drive. Having taken care of his tires for most of the race, the Indian was able to execute a sweeping move around the outside of David Beckmann for second place in the dying stages of the race. Had there been a few more laps left, Daruvala could have possibly mounted a challenge for the win against eventual victor Liam Lawson.
Jehan Daruvala in the second sprint race of the event
Jehan Daruvala began the second race from ninth spot (The top 10 finishing order from the first sprint race is reversed to form the grid for the second sprint race).
The start of the race saw a collision between Dan Ticktum and Robert Shwartzman. Jehan Daruvala didn't have a great first half of the race either, dropping down to as low as 13th at one point in the race. But once again, his brilliant tire management skills and the gamble to switch to soft compound rubber paid dividends.
The Indian driver worked his way up to fourth spot, and a 10-second time penalty for Christian Lundgaard saw him move up to third briefly before the penalty was later cleared.
Expectations from the feature race
Jehan Daruvala will start the feature race in sixth place, following the disqualification of Juri Vips after stewards found his car afoul of technical regulations. Given Daruvala's recent exploits, it wouldn't be a tall order to expect him to deliver another podium finish.
The feature race, unlike the sprint race, involves a mandatory pit stop to switch to the alternate tire compound. Hence, experience with pit stop strategies will play a significant role in the outcome of the race, as compared to the sprint races, which are flatout blasts. Jehan Daruvala possesses the knowledge, experience and certainly the pace to come out on top in the feature race.
Currently, Jehan Daruvala is leading the F2 championship. Helmut Marko and everyone at Red Bull Racing will be watching the drivers of the Red Bull Junior team closely and a good showing here will go a long way toward securing an F1 seat at AlphaTauri next year for the young Indian driver.