Nuremberg (Germany) 2 July 2017: Jehan Daruvala of the Sahara Force India Academy created history by becoming the first ever Indian to win in the FIA F3 European Championship. Jehan’s victory in race 3 comes 18 years after Naren Karthikeyan won in the British F3 Championship.
The 2.3-km Norisring is an extremely fast and flowing layout for a street circuit, with mistakes being punished by concrete walls instead of soft tyre barriers. The Formula 3 rookie showed immense skill to clinch the top spot with two full-course yellow flag periods and made no mistakes despite coming under sustained pressure from championship leader Maximilian Gunther.
The 2001 Formula 1 title runner-up David Coulthard, who also won in F3 on several occasions, presented the winner’s trophy to Daruvala.
FIA Formula 3 is the toughest junior racing category in the world, having produced some of the best racing talents ever known including Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel.
Daruvala had qualified on the front row for the final race of the weekend – behind pole-sitter and championship leader Maximilian Gunther. As the lights went out, the 18-year old got off the line in a scintillating fashion, getting side-by-side with his German rival before even reaching the braking zone into turn one. He comfortably defended the inside while others scrabbled behind him and never looked back – completing a perfect lights to flag win 39 laps later.
That is not to say the race was uneventful. There were many incidents and full-course yellows were deployed twice during the course of the race – but the Indian kept his head down and executed perfect restarts every single time, belying his experience in this format of single-seater racing.
Keeping an experienced rival like Gunther, the championship leader with three years of F3 experience under his belt went a long way in cementing Jehan’s credentials as one of the best new talents in junior motorsport.
Daruvala had a one-second advantage when the first full-course yellow was called on lap six, after a collision between Mick Schumacher and Pedro Piquet. At the restart, Gunther got slightly close and then several times during the race length of the race, but Daruvala kept up his relentless pace and never allowed his German rival an opportunity to make a move, taking the chequered flag with a 0.4s cushion.
“It feels brilliant to get my first F3 win. I have been quick all weekend & it finally came together this race. I knew the start was crucial, so I focused a lot on that. Once I had Max at the start, I just had to ensure that I made no mistakes. The pressure was immense through the race, but I was enjoying myself.
I must thank the team for a fantastic car all weekend & everyone else around me who have been instrumental in my success.” Said an ecstatic Jehan.
There was plenty of action earlier on in the weekend as well, as FIA Formula 3 once again ran alongside the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) – one of world’s leading tin-top championships. The first qualifying session saw Daruvala finish ninth with a laptime of 48.409s, less than two-tenths slower compared to pole-position time of Jake Hughes (48.231s). It once again showcased the ultra-competitive nature of the championship with the entire grid of 18 drivers covered by just seven-tenths of a second.
A strong haul of points thanks to his sixth & fourth places finishes in the first 2 races, meant that Jehan is now fifth in the overall standings and second in the rookie standings.
Shortly after the race ended, there was a great show of support for the young Indian driver – particularly from his compatriot Karthikeyan who enjoyed strong success in Formula 3, incidentally also with Carlin Motorsport.
He tweeted, “18 years after I won my first British F3 race, another Indian has made it to the top step once again – well done & congrats @DaruvalaJehan!”
“By far India’s brightest prospect of making it to F1. Today’s superb drive in the most competitive junior grid seals that. Awesome mate!” said the second tweet from the first Indian in Formula 1.
The next round of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship is scheduled at the iconic Spa-Francorchamps Circuit in Belgium on July 29-30.
eom/Rayo Racing release