The streets of Baku didn’t take long to bite as an incident-filled practice session led to an equally exciting qualifying which saw the Carlin duo sit nicely in the top ten for both the Feature Race and the reverse-grid opening Sprint Race of the weekend.
Having qualified overall in ninth, Daruvala was set to line up on the front row of the grid in second place, and as the lights went out, he was quick to line his car perfectly as the field got up to speed. However, he later came under pressure from Guanyu Zhou who was trying desperately to moveout of the clutches of a fast-charging Ticktum. Zhou completed the move and put Daruvala in third.
Ticktum, who had been pulling off some flawless overtaking manoeuvres had his teammate lined up and soon took third position as his own. However, this wasn’t enough for the Carlin driver who set his sights on Zhou ahead and made it look easy as he stole second for himself.
Ticktum was unable to close in enough on race leader Robert Shwartzman who had been able to build the gap while Ticktum had been busy overtaking; the Carlin driver settled for second as the flag fell. Daruvala was just outside of a podium in fourth position after another solid drive in the points.
Ticktum summed up race one, “I put in some good moves during that race and it was pretty enjoyable. The car was strong although I used upmost of my tyres early on so lost a bit of pace towards the end. However, we were still on the pace all the way through.”
The Carlin duo had great pace again in the second race of the weekend however it was Daruvala who took to the podium after a clean and tidy race as he drove brilliantly to take third place. Ticktum meanwhile encountered drama during the opening lap, as he was spun around by Zhou, leaving him to fight his way back to sixth.
Reflecting on race two, Daruvala said, “I’m very happy with that race especially after we lacked a bit of pace during the opening race of the weekend. I was aggressive and it went well. Obviously, we can see that the car is very good around here.”
The Feature Race on Sunday was a thrilling spectacle around the streets. Unfortunately, Ticktum was the recipient of a steward’s decision, after a three-car collision, which resulted not only in front wing damage but a later10 second stop/go penalty when his mandatory pit stop came around. Despite the penalty, the British driver drove superbly to work his way back up the grid which included a stellar drive on the super soft tyres in the closing stages to bring him right up to eighth place.
Daruvala meanwhile enjoyed a far less dramatic race and maintained his pace well through his two tyre stints and the safety car restarts to take another brilliant points finish in seventh to round out a solid weekend for the Indian racer.
The next round of the championship will take place in July at Silverstone.