Jehan Daruvala was left with “mixed feelings” despite putting on one of the most exciting performances of his Formula 2 career, as the Carlin racer rose from 11th to sixth, but ended up classifying 10th after the flag, with reverse grid pole, due to a five second penalty.
Carlin struggled for one-lap pace on Friday, with both Daruvala and Dan Ticktum Qualifying out of the top 10 in 11th and 13th, but the duo found form in the opening race at Jeddah and made it up to sixth and eighth.
However, Daruvala was called to the Steward’s office after the flag to discuss his move on Ticktum at Turn 2, where the Indian gained a position off-the-road.
“I think that both of us agreed that it was 50/50,” said Daruvala. “I asked Dan after the race because I wasn't sure what happened in the heat of the moment and he said he didn't really know. Honestly, it looked alright to me.
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“Even in the Steward’s room, we were saying it was 50/50 and I didn't really think it was going to be a penalty, but at the end of the day, I got one. I get to start first now and there are a lot of positives to take from the first race.
“I was pretty fast, and I had good overtakes. Hopefully, I don't have to do any overtaking in this next race, and I can win from lights to flag.”
The highlight of Daruvala’s afternoon was an inspired double overtake of Oscar Piastri and Christian Lundgaard in the latter stages of the race, the Red Bull junior sneaking between them for sixth at the last corner.
And while it may have ended up counting for very little, the Indian sees it as proof of his and the team’s abilities heading into the second race, and a confidence booster on the back of a difficult Friday.
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“The last corner is really wide on the entry, so I was ready to go for it and then block into Turn 1,” he explained. “Before the race, I expected to have opportunities because of how big the DRS zones are. If you’re not fast enough, you’re going backwards, it is pretty simple. You need to be fast or else you're not going to survive.
“I get the chance to start on pole, so hopefully I can get a good start and try to win the race. Even if I don't get a great start and end up second, I'm pretty confident we have the pace to win the race. The race car feels a lot stronger than it did in qualifying, so I think we can fight for the win.”