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Dadar boy Jehan Daruvala drives to F3 glory in Spain

20-year-old survives multiple safety car disruptions to lead from start to finish in the second race of the junior single-seater series

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Jehan Daruvala at the winners’ podium in Barcelona, Spain

Article by Abhishek Takle | Mid Day

Indian Formula One hopeful Jehan Daruvala opened the FIA F3 season with a victory yesterday in the second race of the junior single-seater series’ Spanish round. Daruvala, who hails from Mumbai’s Dadar Parsi Colony, looked unflappable as he survived multiple safety car disruptions to lead from lights out to the chequered flag.

“Pretty happy… the team have been very strong right from the first practice,” Daruvala told mid-day over the phone from Barcelona yesterday. “The car has been very competitive; clearly a positive start to the year.” Daruvala had finished the opening round’s first race on Saturday seventh after a clutch issue prevented him from making a clean getaway from fourth on the grid.

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India’s Jehan Daruvala (centre) celebrates his win on the podium

Speedy start

Under the championship’s reverse grid rules, that put him second on the grid for the second race yesterday. There was no clutch trouble this time and he made a lightning getaway. “It was still better than I expected, the jump was very good and the race, except the first safety car, the restart wasn’t great, I was under a bit of pressure,” said Daruvala who also set the fastest lap and bagged the two bonus points on offer for the effort.

“But after that I feel like I pretty much did a good job. I didn’t make any mistakes, I maintained a safe gap, I had to always push the first two laps after the safety car to break the DRS and I was almost the fastest on track always on those two laps. So I am in general pretty happy with how the weekend went,” he said. Daruvala got his big break when he was picked as one of the three winners of the now-defunct Force India outfit’s ‘One from a Billion’ talent hunt in 2011.

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India’s Jehan Daruvala drives the Prema Racing car en route his Formula 3 win at the Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona yesterday

In 2017, he became the first Indian since Narain Karthikeyan to win a Formula 3 race when he triumphed in the European F3 series on his way to second in the championship’s rookie standings. Daruvala did a second season in European F3 last year with British team Carlin. He was expected to be one of the contenders for the title but while he scored another win and finished best of his team-mates, Carlin team weren’t strong enough mount a title challenge. This season he has made the switch to the new FIA F3 championship. The series, which until last year used to be called the GP3 series, is a support category to Formula One.

Point to prove

Driving for Prema — whose two other drivers Robert Shwartzman and Marcus Armstrong finished first and third in the opening race — Daruvala has a chance to show the people that matter what he’s made of. “The drivers here are the best in the world,” said Daruvala who is now third in the overall standings. “So if you’re not in the best car you’re not going to beat them. So, I have an opportunity — I’m in one of the best cars and I have to do the job on track.”