Carlin’s Jehan Daruvala cited Guanyu Zhou’s lead of the Drivers’ Championship as proof the new Formula 2 format works, after the UNI-Virtuosi racer qualified on pole and took the opening Feature Race win. And while it may not have benefited the Red Bull junior as much in Sakhir, he believes it bodes well for his own title bid in the long-term.
Taking second, fourth and sixth in the opening weekend of the new-look championship, Daruvala departed Round 1 in third place in the Standings, as one of the most consistent drivers in the opener.
While he didn’t leave with a win for his efforts, the Indian feels that regular points’ finishes will be more important over the course of the season than an extra victory or two.
“If you qualify at the front, then you have the best chance of scoring the most points. It is pretty simple and Zhou showed that,” Daruvala said. “There’s no need to try and qualify in eighth or ninth or play tactics like that: Zhou qualified at the front, won the Feature Race and left in (first place).
“Before the weekend, I would have taken this as a good starting point. There are always places where you can improve, and for me, it is all about qualifying - getting into the top five and then scoring points consistently.
“That isn’t easy in Formula 2 because the level is really, really high. But, if you are consistently in the top five or six, like I was this weekend, then I think in the end you'll be in the fight for the championship.”
He may have finished the Feature Race where he started it, but Daruvala had to work for sixth place after a Safety Car ruined his attempts of an undercut.
Pitting two laps earlier than most on the hard-soft strategy, the Indian came out ahead of everyone except Zhou, before the arrival of the Safety Car gifted Richard Verschoor and Liam Lawson a free pitstop and track position.
“It was a very eventful race, which to be fair is normal for Formula 2 race. They’re all exciting” he continued. “I started on the hards and then changed to the softs, which seemed better overall. Things were going quite well, and everything was going to plan.
“I was looking forward to the last 10/12 laps, but the Safety Car hindered me a little bit, and Richard and Liam ended upcoming out ahead of me. I was then left to fight with Théo (Pourchaire) and had a big lock-up on my front right tyre.
“Still, I am pleased to have finished in P6 after a difficult race. I think it’s positive. We have the test in Barcelona next where we can make improvements before Round 2 in Monaco.”