Although he missed out on scoring a first Formula 2 pole position, Jehan Daruvala is focusing on the positives as he secured his highest Qualifying result of the 2022 campaign so far.
Following a mixed bag of performances, which peaked at seventh on the grid for the opening round in Sakhir, Daruvala netted himself P4 for Sunday’s Feature Race grid in Barcelona.
Appearing to be the frontrunner for pole at the mid-point of the session, PREMA Racing opted for him and teammate Dennis Hauger to complete their second push laps during a gap in the running, rather than waiting until the final minutes like most of the field.
Their strategy saw the Indian driver climb out of his car with 10 minutes left on the clock and Daruvala could only watch on as Jack Doohan, Jüri Vips and Frederik Vesti leaped ahead of him on the timing sheets – ending up 0.272s adrift of the Virtuosi Racing driver’s quickest time.
Despite the disappointment, Daruvala says he was solely focused on maximising the two flying laps he had available considering the soft tyres’ narrow performance window.
“We only have two sets of tyres, and I had to do one lap on each and just go in the gap,” he said. “We knew the track could evolve a bit at the end of the session, but it was quite important to get the lap in and make sure we did a good lap and that's what happened.
“In the end, we fell down to fourth but I'm still pretty pleased with the laps I did. Both were quite good, and we have a good position in both races to score points.”
“It's quite tricky. We were only fuelled for one lap, so we had to make sure that lap counted. In the end I'm happy where we are. Obviously, I want to be further up, but it's our best Qualifying of the year and we can race well from here.”
One of the biggest uncertainties for the drivers heading into both races is how the tyres are going to cope around the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. The high-speed nature of the track combined with higher temperatures and a lack of long-run data from Friday’s disrupted Free Practice means that bringing back valuable information for the team is going to be crucial, according to the Red Bull junior.
“I think there's going to be a lot of degradation, it’ll be quite a (tyre) management race. I think our car is strong and we can move forwards.
“We’ll have to see how the Sprint Race goes. We're going to collect some data after the race and then decide our strategy and what we're going to do for the Feature Race. But we're in a position to score good points so we don't have to do anything crazy.”
The Red Bull junior driver lines up seventh on the reverse-grid for today’s Sprint Race and will be hoping secure a strong haul of points to move up from third in the Drivers’ Championship.