Indian racer Jehan Daruvala earned his first Formula 2 podium after pipping championship leader Mick Schumacher in a gripping battle for the third place at the Bahrain Grand Prix support race.
Starting eighth on the grid, Daruvala gained two places and stayed sixth for a few laps. However, in Lap 5, he lost two places and was forced off the circuit. The resulting loss of speed cost him more positions. He stayed in tenth place for a few laps before pitting to change tyres.
The 22-year-old Indian emerged from the pits down in the 18th place but quickly climbed up the order. He gained more positions as others pitted and was running sixth by lap 19 of the 32 lap race.
Daruvala soon overtook multiple race winner Robert Shwartzman to move up to fifth. Race leader Schumacher then took his mandatory pit stop. The Indian’s blistering pace after his own pitstop meant that Schumacher emerged from the pits behind the Indian, who was now running third.
Schumacher, son of Formula 1 legend Michael Schumacher, had tyres which were many laps fresher than Daruvala. The two were evenly matched for at least another six laps, before Schumacher now in his second season started closing the gap.
Schumacher soon brought the gap down from 2 seconds to around 1.5 seconds. Besides much fresher tyres, Schumacher was also now on the faster medium compound and charged to reduce the gap down to 0.7 seconds with five laps remaining.
This meant that Schumacher was now also able to use his DRS (Drag Reduction System) which gave him extra speed on three straights around the F1 circuit.
It seemed only a matter of corners before Schumacher would overtake. However, in a nail biting few laps, Daruvala without the option of DRS and a tyre disadvantage drove one of his best races of the season.
With three laps to go, Daruvala defended aggressively into the first corner. He held his nerve and placed his Carlin car in exactly the right places, preventing Schumacher from getting ahead.
The Indian’s excellent racing caused Schumacher to make a couple of mistakes. This allowed him to breathe and he continued his intelligent drive to increase the gap and crossed the line 0.894 seconds ahead of Schumacher, to earn a well deserved third place.
Brazilian Felipe Drugovich won the race ahead of Callum Ilott.
Daruvala was the second runner up in the FIA Formula 3 Championship last year.
With PTI Inputs