Sochi, Russia: In an unprecedented performance by an Indian, young Jehan Daruvala finished second runner up at the FIA F3 Championship, which concluded with the Russian Grand Prix at Sochi.
This is the best championship position ever by an Indian in an official F1 feeder series.
The 20-year-old has been consistently quick throughout the season in arguably the most competitive F1 feeder series. He kicked off his season overcoming clutch issues in race 1 and winning race 2 at the Spanish Grand Prix weekend.
The former second runner up in the World Karting Championship proved his class once again by winning the first race of the second round at the French Grand Prix. He completed a hat-trick of podiums in the very next race.
Jehan eventually capped off the best season ever by an Indian in an official F1 feeder series, with a total of seven podiums in addition to two fastest laps and a pole position.
He has qualified in the top four in every round, except for Hungary where he was caught in traffic. The resulting non-points-scoring races in that round, in addition to a DNF at the British Grand Prix weekend, cost him dear.
However, it was heartbreak for Jehan in the last race of the season, when the Indian's car was unable to start in the formation lap.
The 20-year-old, who was due to start fourth on the grid, had to start from the pit lane, after his car was pushed off the track.
He steadily worked his way up, overtaking a car a lap on an average. He was able to consistently clock lap times similar to the leaders while overtaking. Unfortunately, Jehan pushed too hard and went off track at one point due to which he was penalised five seconds.
Midway through the race, he was 20th on track. The higher he climbed the tougher it was for the Indian to overtake. Once Jehan reached 12th, his tyres were well past their best.
He had to manage this additional situation and still overtook three cars in the last two laps to eventually finish ninth on track. Estonian racer Juri Vips won the race, but Jehan was classified as fifteenth due to the five second penalty.
"What happened at the start is heart breaking. But I had to focus on the race. I just put my head down and drove an aggressive race. Starting 29th and from the pit lane and finishing ninth on track was good fun," Jehan said.
Jehan's Prema Racing teammate, Marcus Armstrong from New Zealand finished second at the Championship. Additionally, he also had the fastest lap, which allowed him to leapfrog Jehan's 13 point margin, to get ahead by a single point.
"Prema has given me a fantastic car all year. It's just unfortunate that in the last few races I have had a bit of bad luck with DRS issues, a brake issue yesterday and the pit lane start today. These are things beyond anyone's control."
"I am happy to have finished third in the championship but disappointed at the same time with the technical issues I had in the last two weekends, but that is racing," said a disappointed Jehan.
Russian Robert Shwartzman was crowned the 2019 FIA F3 Champion.
Updated Date: Sep 29, 2019 23:02:35 IST