Jehan Daruvala and Arjun Maini, India’s F1 hopefuls, have embarked on crucial campaigns in their quest to reach motorsport’s pinnacle.
It sounds like stating the obvious, but it’s make or break time for Jehan Daruvala and Arjun Maini – India’s young F1 hopefuls. While Daruvala has kicked off his second, and probably final, FIA Formula 3 European Championship, Maini has embarked on a maiden season of racing in the FIA Formula 2 Championship.
For now, the pressure is slightly more on Daruvala, as he has often been referred to as one of the favourites for the F3 crown. A solid rookie season and continuing to race with Carlin means that he is in a team that can help him win the title, if he keeps his head down and things go his way.
However, Daruvala’s season got off to an inauspicious start due to his car suffering a suspension failure in the first of three races in the opening round of the season at the Pau street circuit in France. A sixth and third place finishes in the next two races meant that the weekend was not a total loss for Daruvala, although he currently lies eighth in the drivers’ championship. A rookie and a fellow Carlin driver, Sacha Fenestraz, currently leads with haul of 37 points. Daruvala currently has 15.5 points to his name but there are nine more rounds and 27 races left in the season.
And one big positive that Daruvala can walk away with is a higher level of confidence while driving in wet conditions. In the final race of the opening round, Daruvala started fifth but, despite a wet track due to rain, made up two positions to score a podium finish.
It is a step forward for Daruvala, who has previously struggled in wet conditions, and bodes well for him going forward this season. The Sahara Force India Academy driver would probably also benefit from an F1 test this season, but the Force India F1 team is unlikely to give him one unless he can raise the money to pay for it.
Meanwhile, Arjun Maini is also working towards impressing the F1 team that is closely monitoring his progress. Maini has been a Haas F1 team supported driver in the FIA Forrmula 2 Championship along with his current teammate – in the Trident team – Santino Ferrucci.
Trident is not exactly a front-running team in F2 at the moment. It was dead last in the team’s championship last year, and it has shown this year with the sprint race in Baku, Azerbaijan being the only bright spark for the team so far.
Maini and Ferrucci finished fifth and sixth, respectively, but both have failed to score points in any of the other five races, which will have happened by the time you read this story.
Maini’s fortunes could very well turn for the better in Monaco as he has shown good pace on street circuits before, including in the highly competitive FIA Formula 3 European Championship. But it is looking very likely that his maiden season with Trident is being run with the intention of landing a drive at a more competitive team next year.
Maini is still only 20-years-old and has time to put in good performances with an unfancied team in order to raise his stock both in F2 and in the Formula 1 paddock, as F2 races are held on the same weekend.
Nineteen-year-old Daruvala is in a slightly different situation, as he is with a front-running team in a championship that is often considered to be the most important step on the racing ladder that ultimately leads to Formula 1. Finishing the season outside of the top four will be considered to be a bit of a let-down for him, although it’s not necessarily the end of the world. He would be in line for landing a drive with a good F2 team. Fingers crossed!