NEW DELHI: Jehan Daruvala made history last week by becoming the first Indian to win an F2 race – he beat the field in the sprint race at the Sakhir circuit in Bahrain, the final event of the season.
Having ended his debut F2 season on a high, the 22-year-old is now looking forward to the next season with renewed hope. In an email interview, Daruvala, a Red Bull Racing junior driver, told TOI about various facts of his racing life and plans for the future in an email interview. Excerpts:
How did you feel at the podium after winning the sprint race at Sakhir? What was the reaction of your teammates and other drivers?
It was fantastic to finally win a race in F2. It was even more special because it was a hard-fought win. And it was the first race of the season that my dad was present. The team has been fantastic as always and everyone was really thrilled. Hearing the national anthem when I was on the top step, was really special.
Your best results came in the last few races of the season. Do you think you took time to understand the F2 racing in your debut season?
I struggled with starting early in the season and also had engine trouble. It was only after Monza that I managed to change my engine. So, it’s been a season of two halves.
You finished 12th in the overall championship. Are you happy with your performance?
I can definitely say that I’m not happy with 12th… it’s not where I wanted to be. Even when I qualified well, I was struggling with my starts and that put me on the back foot through the races. For next season, I would work hard on that and try to improve on all the lessons I’ve learnt. I would like to be at the sharp end of my game next season.
How is the F2 family? Do the drivers talk and interact with each other?
Off track we are all very friendly. We have been together since karting. We know each other well and regularly hang out. A bunch of us also went karting after the last race weekend.
What are your future plans?
The goal is Formula 1 of course! That’s the pinnacle of motorsport and my dream.
Tell us something about your racing career
I started racing in India with Raymond Banerjee as part of his team in the National championships. Rayo then encouraged me to try at the Asian level where I did well and also won the CIK FIA Asia-Pacific Championship. I was chosen as one of the finalists in the “One in a Billion” hunt by Force India at the time. They introduced me to European karting and I participated in the British Superone National Championship the first year and won it the next year. Post that I had many successful races in Europe and also came 3rd in the World Karting Championship as well. I then made the move to formula cars.
What do you have to say about the motorsports scene in India?
India has a big motorsport fan base and is gaining more and more popularity for sure. The support I have been getting from thousands of fans around India has been very encouraging and I would like to thank them for their support. There is a new track being built as well. It would be great if there were more tracks around the country to introduce young kids to racing at a grassroot level. We definitely need more facilities.