Remaining in Bahrain for the season finale, the Formula Two paddock took to the outer loop for the final two races of the year. The short track provided a new, and bumpy, challenge for all of the drivers as they fought for their eventual championship position. For Tsunoda, a slim chance of the championship title was still in the rookie’s grasp if he managed a complete clean sweep throughout the weekend of pole position, two race wins and two fastest laps.
Tsunoda started off his campaign brilliantly securing pole position and the two bonus points that came along with it. The short loop was also a success for Daruvala who qualified in third position as the pair once again proved their pace in the fast-paced qualifying trim.
From pole, Tsunoda initially lost out however made sure to play the long game; with the Carlin pair looking after their tyres and putting themselves in a strong position for the final Feature Race of the season. After pit stops, Tsunoda was looking strong to pull another one of his fantastic fightbacks and was soon carving his way to the front. A close call with Nikita Mazepin who squeezed him close to the pit wall wasn’t enough to hamper his progress and he had soon blitzed his way to the front of the field.
Daruvala meanwhile was also racing well, the rookie driver took a stellar seventh which secured a front-row lockout ahead of the next days’ Sprint Race. Tsunoda meanwhile continued his brilliant rookie season to take his third victory of the year. And while it meant he was out of contention for the championship having not taken points for the fastest lap, it secured him enough super license points for his potential future.
Sunday’s race was an even more thrilling affair with tyre wear, a championship fight, and wheel to wheel racing throughout the grid. Adding to the complete and utter brilliance of the racing, Daruvala shone as he drove and overtook superbly, to work his way to the front of the pack. His lead was unable to be challenged and the Indian racer clinched his maiden Formula Two win and allowed the Indian national anthem to be heard in the championship for the very first time.
Tsunoda brought the excitement as well and pulled off multiple moves to take the season step of the podium ensuring a fantastic weekend all-round. The strong haul of points also enabled Carlin to take third overall in the final teams’ standings.
Tsunoda said of his third race win;
“I have to thank the Carlin guys for giving me a fantastic car, just as they did last weekend. We stuck to our usual plan and didn’t try to do anything special, we just needed to adapt the car a little bit for the changes in the track but we had good pace from the beginning.
“Race 1, the start was OK but the track position into Turn 1 was really bad and 2 cars got past. Then I saw the 2 cars in front were pushing a lot and I thought that they wont have this pace to the end. So I just tried to manage the tyres as much as possible.
“Then for the last 10 laps I pushed and that worked really well so I got P1. The pace was good, the car was amazing, just like last weekend when we went from P22 to P6 in Race 1. I had great confidence from the beginning, I just had to do my job and I was able to just focus on my driving. A big thanks to Carlin.
“Then Race 2 today, again the start was good but track position was poor and I lost 3 positions. So from there I just tried to gain the positions as fast as possible without forgetting the tyre management. I managed to do that and finally took P2 on the last lap.
“I think that this week has been the best week of my career and thanks to Red Bull, Carlin and Honda for this year.”
Daruvala said of the victory;
“Obviously we knew the car was good because Yuki won the race. So I learnt what I could overnight from the data then basically stuck to my plan today. To not go out ‘all guns blazing` but rather make a good start and settle into the race knowing that we have a good car that should come strong at the end.
“Dan (Ticktum) didn’t make it easy, that was to be expected, fighting for the win, it was great fun.
A few months ago I was not in a good place but things have been getting better and everything is on the right curve. To end the season with a victory is a very nice feeling."
“A big thanks to the team. A one-two, what a way to finish.”