10:19 P.M. (EASTERN TIME)
Although he is only 22 years old, it is likely that Sunday evening, the 6th day of the week, will be the day of his death. December will be one of the highlights of Jehan Daruvala’s racing career. On the Bahrain Sakhir race circuit he took control of the chequered flag and became the first Indian to win a Formula 2 race. Although Daruvala prides himself on being the stoic type, he admits to having had goose bumps when he was at the top of the stage. I’m not a very emotional person, but hearing the national anthem made me very proud. So he says it’s a bit of a leap in the deep end.
But Daruvala had no chance to absorb that feeling. He hurries off the podium and goes to the paddock of the Carlin team to talk to the analysts and technicians about the progress of his race. He went back to the track on Monday. There is really no time to party, because I have to get back on track and concentrate on the plans for next year. The three-day post-season test begins immediately. They have them in Formula 1, and in Formula 2 the same goes for the drivers coming back next season. So there’s literally no rest, he says.
Daruvala, who stayed with Carlin for the post-season tests, doesn’t want to reveal much about his future prospects, but that he will remain in Formula 2 for another season.
At the same time he wants to improve his first season. After signing the contract with the top team, Daruvala had high expectations at the beginning of the year and said he wanted to repeat what he had done with Lando Norris – another driver, Carlina, who is now fighting for McLaren in Formula 1. Position in F1 remains the ultimate goal for Daruvalu, who hopes to become only the third Indian to participate in this race. This evolution, from the penultimate step on the biketladder to the top, did not occur.
Although it ended well, with a first podium last week and a victory in the last race of the season, the Indian season has been mediocre. In the drivers championship he finished in 12th place. He’s more than a hundred points behind his teammate Yuki Tsunoda, who finished third. It will come as no surprise that Tsunoda fell from a distance on a Formula 1 tent next year. It’s not just Daruvala’s fault. During most of the first half of the season his car experienced technical problems. While Daruvala tended to be among the fastest in qualifying, grip problems meant he regularly had terrible starts in a real race. It was only after his bike was replaced in the middle of the season that he started to land between the points.
Fault! The file name is not specified. Daruvala, teammate of Yuki Tsunoda, who is expected to participate in F1 in 2021. In order to have a chance to win Formula 1, Daruvala has to outperform his teammates and other drivers. Mark Thompson/Getty Pictures
There’s no reason why Daruvala can’t change everything the way others have. Like Daruvala, Mick Schumacher – son of the legendary Michael – finished 12th last season. This year he won first place in the driver’s championship and after receiving Haas’ signature he will compete in Formula 1 next year. It’s a tough request, that’s why Daruvala doesn’t want to play for his victory. My goal is not to get one podium or one victory a year. He says he should always be on the edge of the fence.
But that’s why Daruvala’s individual victory is important, if only to give him the confidence to be at the top. It is very important for his self-confidence, says former Formula 1 driver Karun Chandhok, who won two races in GP2, the predecessor of Formula 2. Jehan can take that confidence with him next season. For me, and of course for Jehan and most of the riders, it’s a certain relief to get his first victory. You realize what you see as your potential, Chandhok says.
This victory is doubly important, especially for the success of his teammate. This is very important because you have to show not only yourself but also your sponsors that they are right to support you. Jehan’s a young Red Bull runner like me. And with a sponsor like that, he’s under a lot of pressure. They expect you to win the race and fight for the championship. The pressure is of course even greater because his team mate has won the race and will compete in Formula 1 next year. Same thing happened when I went shopping. There were four Red Bull junior drivers in GP2 and we were constantly being compared, Chandhok said.
Send it to win in ..
Best work, @DaruvalaJehan �#SakhirGP � #F2 pic.twitter.com/s5yRuhJvx4
– Formula 2 (@FIA_F2) 6. December 2020
When he starts his second season in 2021, Daruvala will have to surpass his colleagues. Next year, my goal is to fight for the championship and finish in the top three. If all goes well, there’s no reason why I can’t be in that position, Daruvala says.
Contrary to this season he can expect not only a strong second half, but he has to set the tone from the start. Most negotiations for a Formula 1 seat will start halfway. So you have to start performing on this stage, Chandhok says.
Of course, Mr. Chandhock admits, many pieces of the puzzle must fall into place at the same time. The vast majority of drivers who arrive in Formula 2 will never make it to Formula 1, said Chandhok. First of all: If someone has to get into Formula 1, there has to be a driver who has to be removed from the Formula 1 team. This figure changes from year to year. When I entered Formula 1, there were four others from GP2. In other years there may be one or none of the alumni. It’s all the more difficult because today there are only 20 driver places in Formula 1 compared to 24 when I started 10 years ago.
Chandhok adds that Daruvale needs to show himself. At this stage, you need someone to support you. They have to sell to the Formula 1 teams. They should be on their radar. You can’t expect your leaders or your father to do it for you. When I was driving, I sent Bernie Ecclestone mail every month in case he remembered what he had heard about me, he says.
Chandhok thinks it won’t be easy for Daruvalu, who he thinks is a bit reluctant. Jehan has many great qualities. He has an excellent work ethic, is very analytical when it comes to thinking about the car and understands the technical side of his car. He’s a little shy and not as pushy as I am. Chandhok says he has to change that.
My goal is not to get one podium or one victory a year. It should always be at the end of the starting grid.
None of this will matter if Daruvala can’t influence the race track. If you get in the top three of the best Formula 2 teams, you still have a good chance to be selected as a Formula 1 team, he says. This is even true in the world of Formula 1, where the potential sponsorship of drivers can have a significant impact on the prospects of a driver who wants to compete. To be honest there may be two teams, Haas and Williams, where the drivers are expected as sponsors. This is much less than in the past and with a more equitable distribution of income expected next year, the pressure from the arrival of the sponsored driver will decrease further.
If you need a $15 to $20 million sponsorship, of course that’s useful, but the teams still want a good driver. Taking two drivers who pay $10 million each and finish last isn’t very helpful compared to a driver who can even finish sixth or seventh in a championship, Chandhok said.
P1!!! �COPY9…It’s a pleasure to end the season at a high level…A big thank you to Team�� and to everyone who supported me during the season…See you next year@FIA_F2 @CarlinRacing @_winway @_pap_sc pic.twitter.com/pq280JPRmY
– Jehan Daruvala (@ Daruvala-Jehan) 6. December 2020
It seems that 2021 will be a decisive year for Daruvalu. I think it’s good that he gives himself an extra year in Formula 2. At the same time, he has to read the market. I think that the driver invests about two million dollars a year to participate in Formula 2. If he does a good job and gets a place in Formula 1, that’s great. But (if) there are no vacancies, a difficult choice has to be made. But it’s not predictable, says Chandhok.
Daruvala knows too. My plan is to go into Formula 1, but if you fail in Formula 2, you don’t go into Formula 1. In this phase my goal is to prepare myself well for Formula 2 and if all goes well, I will be in Formula 1 next year. It would be a special moment, he says.