Jehan Daruvala becomes 1st Indian to win FIA Formula 3 European Championship race

Jehan Daruvala, the 18-year-old Mumbai racing driver, became the first Indian to win a race in the highly competitive FIA Formula 3 European Championship on Sunday.
Jehan Daruvala became the first Indian on Sunday to win an FIA Formula 3 European Championship race.(HT Photo)
Jehan Daruvala became the first Indian on Sunday to win an FIA Formula 3 European Championship race.(HT Photo)
Updated on Jul 03, 2017 03:14 AM IST
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Hindustan Times | ByHT Correspondent

Jehan Daruvala became the first Indian driver to win in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship on Sunday, claiming victory in Race 3 at the Nuremberg circuit.

The 18-year-old Mumbai driver’s success at this junior level, assessed for the potential to go on to higher echelons, comes 18 years after Narain Karthikeyan, India’s first Formula 1 driver, won in the British F3 Championship.

The 2.3-km Norisring is an extremely fast and flowing layout for a street circuit and mistakes are punished by the concrete walls instead of tyre barriers.

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The Formula 3 rookie, from the Sahara Force India Academy, showed skill to take the lead and held his spot through two full-course yellow flag periods following incidents on the tracks.

He made no mistakes despite coming under sustained pressure from championship leader Maximilian Gunther of Germany. Former F1 ace David Coulthard presented the winner’s trophy to Jehan Daruvala.

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Formula 3 is one of the toughest junior racing categories in the world, having been the stepping stone for some of the best racing talents ever known, including Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel.

The race weekend involves three races. Jehan Daruvala had qualified on the front row for the final race behind pole-sitter Gunther. As the lights went out, he got off the line, drew level with the German before reaching the braking zone into Turn 1.

He comfortably defended the inside and never looked back, completing a lights-to-flag win in the 39-lap race.

There were many incidents and full-course yellows were deployed twice, but the Indian was impressive in his first season in Formula 3 with his keeping the experienced Gunther at bay, underlining his potential.

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Daruvala had a one-second advantage when the first yellow flag was called on Lap 6, after a collision between Mick Schumacher and Pedro Piquet.

At the restart and later, Gunther kept closing in the gap, but Jehan Daruvala held on, taking the chequered flag with a 0.4s cushion.

“It feels brilliant to get my first F3 win. I have been quick all weekend and it finally came together this race. I knew the start was crucial, so I focused a lot on that. Once I had Max at the start, I just had to ensure I made no mistakes. The pressure was immense through the race, but I was enjoying myself,” said Jehan Daruvala.

There was plenty of action through the weekend. Jehan Daruvala was ninth in the first qualifying session with a lap time of 48.409s, less than two-tenths slower to pole-sitter Jake Hughes (48.231s).

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A strong haul of points thanks to his sixth and fourth places in the first two races meant Jehan Daruvala is fifth in the overall standings, and second in the rookie standings.

The next round of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship is scheduled at the iconic Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium on July 29-30.

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