Macau: Jehan Daruvala of the Sahara Force India Academy, overcame numerous hurdles, while gaining valuable experience, on his debut at the FIA F3 World Cup. The nineteen year old Indian finished a commendable tenth in his rookie race at the Macau Grand Prix. The notoriously unforgiving street circuit witnessed high drama throughout the weekend with most sessions witnessing either a red flag or a safety car, due to multiple accidents.
Jehan’s weekend at the Macau Grand Prix began with the Indian teenager finding his way around his the circuit during his first time on track. The Grand Prix in Macau deviates from the normal racing format, with the average of 2 qualifying sessions deciding the start position for a qualifying race, which in turn decides the grid for the Grand Prix race.
The 6.1 Guia street circuit is considered as one of the toughest circuits in the World and numerous F1 stars have raced and won here, enroute to F1. The circuit has no run-off at most corners, while metal armco barriers or walls, line the edge of the narrow circuit for most of its length. The added twist of the extremely high speeds that can be achieved, often result in mayhem with multiple crashes in all categories.
Jehan’s progress was hampered after crashes in practice 1 and qualifying 1, as it was for numerous other experienced and rookies alike. However the young Indian improved significantly in the second practice session which saw him just 1.1 seconds off the pace, in tenth position. Qualifying 2 undid his efforts after a crash on his first quick lap left him down in nineteenth. Jehan started nineteenth in the qualifying race, but unfortunately by then he had damaged too many tyres in his accidents. He was forced to use an old set for the race and could do little in terms of progressing up the order and eventually finished the race in sixteenth.
The FIA F3 World Cup Race at the Macau Grand Prix proved to be the most exciting. Jehan finally on fresh tyres immediately made a move once the lights went out. He was unfortunately forced wide and once again hit the barriers. Luckily the only damage that Jehan had was a slow puncture. He soon had to make an unscheduled pit-stop to change the punctured tyre and then resumed his race on track. He was fortunate to pit during a safety car period which meant he did not lose too much ground to the leaders.
Jehan joined the race in last and put his head down to close the gap. He soon started overtaking cars and also benefitted from others crashing. Jehan eventually took the chequered flag in a commendable tenth position, 10.45 seconds behind the race winner. Up ahead, the race was one of the most exciting races in the history of the Macau GP. The early leaders crashed in the first few laps after which Jehan’s teammate, Habsburg from Austria took the lead from Brazilian favourite, Sergio Camara on the last corner of the last lap! Ironically however, both crashed as they exited the last corner and handed victory to British racer Daniel Ticktum who started from eighth.
“I expected a mixed weekend – and it was exactly that. It was a steep learning curve with absolutely no margin for error. My qualifying race was compromised because ran out of tyres. At the start of the GP race I was forced into the barriers, which was a shame because I had good pace. Considering all the set-backs, I am happy with the pace I managed at the end, in my first Macau GP. I have learnt a lot and would definitely love to come and race here again next year” said Jehan after his top ten finish in the FIA F3 World Cup.
Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher, David Coulthard are some of the Formula 1 winners who have won the Macau Grand Prix in the past besides, numerous other F1 racers who have participated but were unable to win.