Carlin’s Jehan Daruvala has secured his maiden FIA Formula 2 podium at the Bahrain International Circuit as the penultimate round of the 2020 season took place. Daruvala made his way up to third as the flag fell after a dramatic race which saw the Red Bull Junior defend brilliantly from the current championship leader in the closing stages. Meanwhile Yuki Tsunoda started on the back foot after a spin in qualifying left him to start at the back of the grid; however the Red Bull Honda Junior driver had a storming drive from last to sixth in the Feature Race.
Despite having the pace in free practice, qualifying dealt the team a tricky hand under the lights in Bahrain. Tsunoda ran wide over the kerbs which sent him into a spin ultimately stalling the engine and ending his session. Therefore, he started Saturday’s Feature Race from the very back of the grid. It was a however solid session for Daruvala who finished the session in eighth overall.
Saturday morning’s Feature Race was an interesting one for the field played out on degrading tyres meaning the likelihood of a two-stop race. Tsunoda launched well off the line and made it his mission to move up the field. Daruvala had also got off the line well and, despite being squeezed a touch, was looking good in the early stages.
As the pit stops came in to play Tsunoda was starting to impress as he took position after position. Soon enough he was legitimately in the top ten as he continued his fight. Daruvala meanwhile was running on a differing strategy which brought him right towards the front in the closing stages. However the talented Indian racer came under a little bit of pressure from championship leader Mick Schumacher who he defended from brilliantly to cross the line in third and take his maiden podium in the championship. Meanwhile Tsunoda enjoyed a storming race and finished sixth.
Sunday’s race was a more dramatic affair with Daruvala being taken out of contention after he was collected by an out-breaking Callum Ilott. Tsunoda suffered a puncture on the opening lap which left him down the order – eventually finishing 15th.
Daruvala said of his podium, “We were quick right from the start of the weekend, me and Yuki both. Then Qualifying was 8th but there was so much more potential. Honestly, Callum’s lap was good but we had the potential to be on the front row but with Yellow Flags, traffic, all that we were 8th. I knew that I was out of position and could be strong in the race.”
“That’s what happened, a good start in the first race, the starts have been coming along quite well. I made up positions on the first lap but the Prime runners had a better stint than us on the Options so that was a bit hard.
“But as soon as we put the Prime tyres on and had the track to ourselves we could just stick to our plan and build into the race. Honestly the tyres hung on well, everyone could see that it was a good battle with Mick (Schumacher).
“I knew that if I held him back and made him work extra hard then his Option tyres would fade away. Obviously I made it as hard as I could for him and in the end it worked out. I tried to keep up a good pace so that he had to push to stay with me and his tyres would fade but to be fair to him, he did do quite well. So me trying to eke out that gap made me also suffer in those last 4 or 5 laps.
“Once I had defended for 2 or 3 corners his rears started to overheat and I had a bit of a buffer for the last lap or so. I was really happy to get my first podium.”