India’s Formula 2 racer Jehan Daruvala will be looking to bounce back in Saudi Arabia this weekend, as he returns to Jeddah’s high-speed Corniche street track, which set the stage for a storming top-three finish for the young driver last year.
The 24-year-old, racing for reigning Netherlands-based champions MP Motorsport, endured a disappointing season-opening weekend in Bahrain a fortnight ago, as he struggled with tyre wear around the particularly abrasive Sakhir desert track.
But Jeddah’s 6.1-km long layout, which runs along the shores of the Red Sea, offers him the perfect opportunity to hit the reset button on his campaign.
Daruvala mounted a stirring podium comeback there last year, as he used a combination of strategy, tyre management and pure old race craft, which included a gutsy triple overtake, to go from 14th to third in Sunday’s feature race.
MP Motorsport, meanwhile, also enjoyed a strong weekend collecting pole position, a Sprint Race podium and the Feature Race win there last year.
With the track surface also kinder to the tyres, Daruvala can be optimistic of a strong result in Saudi Arabia.
“I have great memories from Saudi Arabia last year. My drive in the Feature Race was one of my strongest of the season and I’m looking forward to another top-three finish in Jeddah to fire up my campaign. Bahrain wasn’t an ideal start for us. But the unique characteristics of the track mean it was an outlier rather than a true indicator of form. Nevertheless, we’ve worked hard to understand the issues and are confident that they are behind us. That, together with the team’s showing in Jeddah last year, give me plenty of hope that we can bounce back with a strong result,” Daruvala said.
Daruvala has established himself as a front-runner in Formula 2 with a haul of four wins and 15 podiums over three seasons in the series. He is also eligible for a Formula One super licence having successfully completed three F1 test sessions with former champions McLaren.
The 24-year-old is also a Formula E reserve for Indian manufacturer Mahindra Racing, a role he will combine with his F2 campaign.
Headquartered in the Netherlands, MP Motorsport last year became only the second team in Formula 2 history to achieve the title double. The outfit chalked up five-race wins with championship winner Felipe Drugovich and also scored seven further podiums.