“At the end of the day it’s a race car, so you push it to the limit.” Jehan Daruvala is in no doubt as to how he’ll approach his maiden FIA Formula 2 race, and after a dazzling display in pre-season testing, who can blame him?
Stepping up from Formula 3, the Carlin rookie was a surprise package in last week’s testing stint in Sakhir. The Indian made his first ever appearance in F2 machinery around the Bahrain International Circuit, but you’d not have guessed it.
Finishing third on Day 1 and first on Day 2, Daruvala found instant harmony with the car, and the new 18-inch Pirelli tyres.
“It feels very good, I am quite happy with how things went,” he elated. “It took me some time to get used to the turbo and stuff during the first morning, but once you find the limit, it feels good.
“I think that it’s going to be a big learning curve with the new rims, but I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
The new tyres could play the role of divine leveller in F2 this season, putting rookies on more of an even playing field with the experienced drivers in the paddock. Daruvala appreciates this more than most, having never previously driven on the old ones in F2 - the Indian was forced to sit out the post-season tests in Abu Dhabi due to a training injury.
“It does change some characteristics,” he explained. “It’s a bit easier to lock tyres and harder on traction. I obviously hadn’t driven the car before, but that is what the engineers are telling me.
“It is new for everyone though, so hopefully the rookies have less of a disadvantage. We had a lot of driving over the three days, so there was time to learn and get ready for Round 1.”
The 21-year-old finished third in F3 last season with Team Champions PREMA Racing, forming a prolific partnership with Italians. He notched two wins and seven podiums, narrowly missing out on the title in final round.
For 2020, he will return to his old European F3 team, Carlin, and has also been snapped up by the Red Bull Driver Academy, who had kept a keen eye on his progression with PREMA last year.
Not normally one for sentiment, the Indian admitted that this particular deal, felt a little different. “I am not really an emotional kind of guy,” he said. “But, that is probably the most happy and emotional I have been, when I finally made it official and signed with them. I am very proud to run under their sponsorship and logos and I hope to do well for them this year.”
“I worked with Carlin before as well and I have similar engineers, so I am very happy to join them and hopefully we can enjoy a good successful season together.”