Monza (Italy), 1 May 2017: Sahara Force India Academy racer Jehan Daruvala, earned his maiden podium at the second round of the FIA F3 European Championship.
It is the first time that an Indian was seen on the F3 podium. Earlier in the weekend, Jehan had created history by becoming the first Indian to qualify on pole in the competitive series, considered as one of the important stepping stones to F1.
Jehan had a good start from pole, and entered the crucial first corner ahead of British racer Jake Dennis. Jehan made no mistakes in the first few laps and quickly opened up a gap of over 2 seconds to the chasing pack. Behind Jehan, a bunch of four racers – Dennis, McLaren Junior – Norris, championship leader – Joel Eriksson, and Ferdinand Habsburg were battling hard for second. Numerous changes of position ensued before Norris broke away and slowly started catching Jehan. On lap 15 Norris was right on Jehan’s tail coming around the last corner. The long start finish straight allowed Norris to take advantage of the slipstream from Jehan’s car and overtake him into the first corner.
Jehan stayed with Norris and immediately tried to get his place back, but he wasn’t successful. The Indian teenager continued fighting but had to eventually settle for 2ndand took the chequered flag, just 0.65 seconds behind Norris, to earn his maiden podium in F3. Habsburg claimed 3rd, a further 4.7 seconds behind Jehan.
Qualifying for Race 2 and 3 was held after Race 1. On his quick lap, Jehan unfortunately made a crucial mistake which cost him half a second and he dropped down the order. So close was the entire field that although Jehan was just 0.38 seconds slower than the fastest, he ended up tenth !
Jehan started tenth for race 2 and was soon making his way up the order and found himself in eighth position. He soon caught the experienced Callum Illot and managed to muscle his way past. However, Illot retook the position back from Jehan and he had to settle for eighth. Swedish racer Joel Eriksson won the race.
Race 3 saw Jehan start from eighth, based on his second fastest lap in the second qualifying session. Jehan had a good start and managed to hold position, but a few corners later another racer dived down his inside. Jehan was then pushed wide and deep into the gravel, which dropped him down all the way to 16th. Jehan luckily managed to rejoin, but dirty tyres meant it took him more than a lap to regain race pace which dropped him further away from the cars in front.
Jehan quickly recovered and started making his way up the order around the 5.793km Monza Grand Prix Circuit which is one of the fastest circuits on the calendar. Jehan soon in thirteenth, made an excellent move for twelfth, but the other racer shut the door on Jehan resulting in contact and the other car being launched in the air momentarily, to retire from the race. Jehan fortunately survived but once again lost considerable time to the cars he was chasing. He soon got his rhythm back and reeled off a series of quick laps to catch the cars in front. He overtook one by one eventually crossing the line in ninth and also clocking the second fastest laptime of the race. Callum Illot was the winner ahead of Norris.
“A much better weekend for me in terms of pace. I have been right up there in almost all sessions. Pole position was fantastic and I am also happy with my 2nd place. A mistake on my flying lap in Q2 proved to be very costly. Starting mid grid and overtaking is not easy with all drivers being really quick. However I enjoyed the racing and have also learned a lot. I’m now focusing on the next weekend” said Jehan reflecting on the weekend.
The Sahara Force India Academy racer once again finished all races in the points and earned himself three rookie trophies, besides his 2nd place trophy. He moves up from 8th to 7th in the championship but continues to remain 3rd in the Rookie Championship. Jehan’s next event will be held at the street circuit in Pau, France on 20th and 21st May.
eom/Rayo Racing press release