Jehan Daruvala was disappointed to not end up further ahead in the order in what was a difficult Qualifying for the PREMA Racing team but believes a decent points haul is still on the cards.
The Indian driver did manage to recover somewhat and secure reverse grid pole for Saturday’s Sprint Race but says the performance was still lacking from where he should have ended up.
PREMA’s session was far from smooth after teammate Dennis Hauger trundled to a halt in the final third of the session with an issue on his car. Once the running got underway again, Daruvala couldn’t break into the top five on the grid.
While the heat played a part in the difficulties the drivers faced, Daruvala says that the team was missing some speed compared to its rivals, something that it will need to remedy if they are to score more strong points in the Championship.
“It wasn’t the best session, we just lacked a bit of pace all round,” he surmised after Qualifying. “I was struggling to even be in the top 10 for most of the session so getting reverse grid pole is a bit of a bonus I would say.
“I'm not really that happy with the pace, but can't really do much. Obviously we need to look into it. But again, tomorrow's a new day. We start on pole, there's a lot of fuel in the car and in terms of race pace, we've been really strong this year. So I'm confident we can have a good race.”
The heat in Le Castellet has been one of the biggest factors facing drivers so far this weekend, with temperatures expected to remain high throughout both races. Yesterday in Qualifying the conditions were cooler than those faced in Practice, but Daruvala believes that it will still take its toll during the Sprint, and not just on the tyres.
“I think during Practice it was a bit more challenging on the hard tyres. A lot of us pushing, making some mistakes or trying to find the limits. In Qualifying there's a bit more grip out there and everyone’s finding their place a bit more. I think in the end, conditions are the same for everyone in terms of heat, it’s hot, but it's not too bad. You’ve just got to eat well, hydrate well and the rest is alright.”
The planning has already begun for a recovery of the weekend. With nobody in front of him on the grid for the Sprint, Daruvala is hoping he can maximise his start and save his tyres, a critical factor with the heat unlikely to go away by the time the lights go out.
He also believes that a good points haul is still on the table for the Feature Race, providing he and the team can identify the problem areas and make forward progress in the early phase of the race.
“Hopefully not too much. Clean start and then a clean Turn 1, then hopefully not see any rear wings in front of me for the rest of it. So that's probably going to be the plan.
“I'm hoping to be fast and I'm sure if we are fast we can move forwards and score good points. Let's see how it goes.”