Jehan Daruvala: I'm ready for Formula One

Updated: Mar 15, 2020, 08:41 IST | Ashwin Ferro | Mumbai

Mumbai racer Jehan Daruvala keen to dazzle in maiden F2 season to make ultimate progression into the big league of motorsport

Jehan Daruvala
Jehan Daruvala

City lad Jehan Daruvala, 21, is bracing up for his maiden F2 season with Carin, having been picked into a prestigious junior program, with one eye on the pinnacle of motorsport—Formula One.

"To be a part of the Red Bull Junior program is an honour for any young driver, who harbours a dream of making it to F1. They have a reputation of spotting talent in juniors and having nurtured many F1 stars like four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo among others. It's very satisfying to be recognised by them as an emerging talent. It gives me a lot of confidence," Daruvala told mid-day recently.

India's third F1 star?

India have had just two F1 drivers so far—Narain Karthikeyan and Karun Chandhok—and going by the loud revvs coming from Daruvala's engine, he could well be the nation's third F1 driver in the future. In fact, he is ready right now. "I have been training and competing in Europe at the highest level for the last nine years. So, from a preparation perspective, I feel I am ready to move to F1. I have been competing at the top end in Europe right through my karting and single seater
career which has given me the confidence of doing well when I get to F1.

F2, a stepping stone

"Having said that, being competitive in F2 is going to be crucial to make that step. The 2020 F2 grid has many drivers, who have spent two to five years in F2, while even the rookies this year, are very impressive. Thirteen of the 22 drivers are associated with F1 teams. As a rookie, Top-5 would be a decent finish but I'm aiming for the Top-3. The move to F1 will be decided by Red Bull purely on my performance," added Daruvala, who finished an impressive third in the F3 season recently with two wins.

Jehan Daruvala during a practice session in Bahrain recentlyJehan Daruvala during a practice session in Bahrain recently

"2019 was a fantastic season for me. Going into the F3 championship last year, all drivers were aware that it was going to be one of the most competitive grids because of the merger of the European F3 and GP3 championships. At the beginning of the year, I felt a Top-5 finish would be a good result and Top-3 finish would be fantastic. However, when I finished third in the championship in Sochi, I was a bit disappointed. I was in the race for the championship till the end and at least second place was guaranteed but I was unfortunate in the last two weekends," explained the Dadar Parsee Colony resident.

Sponsorship however, remains the key issue in motorsport and while Daruvala has been self-funded so far, he stressed on being open to commercial tie-ups.

"I've been fortunate as my family has been in a position to support my career so far but in F2 things are very expensive. It is nice to have received the backing from Red Bull but we will also be looking for other sponsors," he mentioned.

Sponsorship factor

The Indian F1 GP being taken away hasn't done him any favours either. "It is unfortunate that we do not have a F1 GP despite India being in the Top 5 markets in terms of viewership. An Indian GP would have helped make motorsport a lot more popular and this would have created an environment for more investment and sponsorship from corporates," explained the young driver.

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