Jehan Daruvala of Sahara Force India Academy on Saturday, created history by becoming the first Indian to win in the FIA F3 European Championship here. Jehan’s victory in race 3 comes 18 years after Naren Karthikeyan won in the British F3 Championship. The 2.3-km Norisring is an extremely fast and flowing layout for a street circuit, with mistakes being punished by concrete walls instead of soft tyre barriers. The Formula 3 rookie showed immense skill to clinch the top spot with two full-course yellow flag periods and made no mistakes despite coming under sustained pressure from championship leader Maximilian Gunther.
The 2001 Formula 1 title runner-up David Coulthard, who also won in F3 on several occasions, presented the winner’s trophy to Jehan. FIA Formula 3 is the toughest junior racing category in the world, having produced some of the best racing talents ever known including Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel.
Jehan had qualified on the front row for the final race of the weekend, behind pole-sitter and championship leader Maximilian Gunther. As the lights went out, the 18-year old got off the line in a scintillating fashion, getting side-by-side with his German rival before even reaching the braking zone into turn one. He comfortably defended the inside while others scrabbled behind him and never looked back, completing a perfect lights to flag win 39 laps later.
There were many incidents and full-course yellows were deployed twice during the course of the race, but the Indian kept his head down and executed perfect restarts every single time, belying his experience in this format of single-seater racing. Keeping an experienced rival like Gunther, the championship leader with three years of F3 experience under his belt went a long way in cementing Jehan’s credentials as one of the best new talents in junior motorsport.
Jehan had a one-second advantage when the first full-course yellow was called on lap six, after a collision between Mick Schumacher and Pedro Piquet. At the restart, Gunther got slightly close and then several times during the race length of the race, but Daruvala kept up his relentless pace and never allowed his German rival an opportunity to make a move, taking the chequered flag with a 0.4s cushion.
— Ashok Gehlot (@ashokgehlot51) July 4, 2017
“It feels brilliant to get my first F3 win. I have been quick all weekend & 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 that I made no mistakes. The pressure was immense through the race, but I was enjoying myself.
“I must thank the team for a fantastic car all weekend & everyone else around me who have been instrumental in my success,” said an ecstatic Jehan. A strong haul of points thanks to his sixth and fourth places finishes in the first two races meant that Jehan is now 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.