Arjun Maini, roped in as a junior development driver by the Haas Formula 1 team a couple of days back, seems to be soaring in confidence at the moment. The 19-year-old Indian, who drives for Jenzer Motorsport, capped off a remarkable week by winning his first race in the GP3 series, finishing on top of the podium in the sprint race (race 2) at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona on Sunday.
Maini, who became the first Indian to win a GP3 (a feeder series to GP2) race Sunday, was understandably thrilled, more so, as it happened at a famed circuit on a Formula One race weekend (the GP3 rounds are held as support events during F1 GPs).
“As I stood on the podium and heard the national anthem, I was overjoyed that this moment was telecast across many countries in the world,” said Maini, as he cherished his moment of triumph, which came after a hard-fought race. “The national anthem at the podium is a dedication to every Indian who has ever supported me and backed me in any way that they can.”
Earlier, Maini finished Race 1 in seventh position. With the victory and a points finish, Maini is now third in the championship after the first round of the eight-round GP3 series. He has 23 points.
Nirei Fukuzumi of Japan (Team ART Grand Prix) leads the standings with 29 points, followed by Maini’s Jenzer teammate, Alessio Lorandi of Italy (25).
Starting with a bang
Maini started Race 2 with a bang, taking the lead from Raoul Hyman of South Africa, who was on pole in the first corner.
“My desired lead came from the first corner, followed by a nerve-racking first five laps with (Dorian) Boccolacci on my tail and his attempts to overtake me multiple times while we were in the DRS Zone,” explained Maini, trying to take us through the cat-and-mouse moments of the race. “Once I broke away from the DRS zone, I was able to focus on my pace and started to build the gap. It was the most amazing feeling as I crossed the finish line and it started to sink in that I had my first race win in GP3.”