The end goal is to win the F2 championship but I want to do it race by race

Jehan Daruvala had a mixed season in 2021, winning two races – Sprint Race 2 at Monza and Sprint Race 1 at Yas Marina Circuit with five overall podiums and a total of 113 points. He also participated in the Asian F3 Championship where he took three wins, two second places and three third places. But there were also missed opportunities, like the Sprint Race 2 of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix or the Sprint Race 1 in Monaco.

He ended the year seventh overall in the 2021 F2 Drivers’ Championship and as he nears the start of what could be a breakthrough season for his Formula 1 dreams, he is focused on his third year. consecutively in the Red Bull Junior Program Account. This year he has also moved on to defending champions and arguably the most dominant team in F2 racing, Prema, giving Daruvala the right ammunition to get going in the season.

As the 23-year-old prepares for the upcoming Bahrain Grand Prix, he talks to Scroll.in on his plans for a very important year, the lessons he learned, his experience with Red Bull and more:

You were around 10 years old when your father saw an ad for Rayomand Banajee Karting Academy which you tried out for. It’s been over a decade of racing. One month from Bahrain, how do you envisage 2022, what are your projects?

It’s been a long journey so far, but heading into the 2022 season with a few years of Formula 2 experience, I have the seat at Prema and I’m still part of the Red Bull junior team, c so this is a great opportunity for me. Obviously there will be pressure but I’m really looking forward to it. My ultimate goal is to go to Formula 1 and I have all the tools at my disposal. Now it’s about trying to get the best possible result that will increase that level needed to go to F1.

In December you mentioned that you had to look beyond F1 if you didn’t reach the top in 2023. You made a decision that requires a lot of thought and sacrifice, when and how did you come to decide that could this year be decisive for your F1 projects?

I think it was a combination of many things. There are not many places available in Formula 1 as such. I’m on the Red Bull junior team and on their side too, this year has got to be the year I perform well and there doesn’t seem to be any seats left. It’s a breakthrough year for F1, but not my motorsport career, so that’s what I meant by a breakthrough year, everything has to come together both in terms of performance and a seat has to fit. open and many other things must come together and in this sense it is a decisive year.

From a sports psychology point of view, does admitting this publicly before the season give you extra motivation every time you’re in the cockpit, or can it also add a bit of pressure?

I think it’s a bit of both. There will always be pressure when you race, no matter if it’s a breakthrough year, but I think even if I didn’t say it, everyone knows it. Like I said, I see this more as an opportunity than too much pressure on myself. I’m with a team that has had great results in the past. They have a great history in all the championships they have entered, so like I said, I have the tools with me now. It’s up to me to perform and get the best possible results.

What do you expect to do differently this season?

My end goal is obviously to win the championship but I don’t want to look that far. I want to go race by race. Now that we have a test coming up in Bahrain, the main thing for me is to get a bit more comfortable with the car and with the team with all the new procedures and to make sure I’m fully prepared. for the first round in Bahrain.

Red Bull have prepared top players like Verstappen and Vettel, you are with them for the third year in a row, what was your experience with the junior team?

It was really good. We get a lot of support from them off the track, but not only that, they let us be ourselves which is also great. They also gave us this platform where you get results if you do well. They have a junior team in F1 for us to go to, which is a great opportunity for young drivers, so I’m really happy and proud to be part of this program.

You had 2 wins and a total of 5 podiums in 2021, what is the one big learning from the past year that you will carry on this season?

I’ve had good results but also had bad ones, so this year it’s more about being consistent, not having a lot of bad results. There are fourteen races this year, so whoever is the fastest and most consistent driver of the season will end up winning, so yes, my aim is to be as fast as possible and as consistent as possible.

If you had to highlight your biggest improvement over the past year, what would it be?

The place where I improved the most last year was my race starts. They’ve been pretty good all year, so it gives you a bit more confidence when you’re going out in front that you can get off the line and have a good race instead of worrying about the starting process.

Less than a month from the Bahrain Grand Prix, what is the preparation?

The preparation is quite intense, both physically and mentally. I’m going to Italy where for four or five days, I’m just going to prepare for the upcoming test. We will go through all our plans, our procedures, we will also put the stimulator there. I was at the simulator at Red Bull a few days ago. We therefore do everything we can to prepare each meeting as well as possible. After the tests in Bahrain, we still have a few days in Italy to talk about the tests in order to prepare again for the next event, so overall we are preparing as best we can.

You had mentioned in an interview with Red Bull that winning at Monza was your most dominant race, but Jeddah was actually your most memorable race…especially the battle with Oscar Piastri, could you tell me what happened going through your mind in the cockpit?

After the safety car restarted in this race, I had a big lock-up in Turn 1 and punctured my front tyre. Halfway through the lap I actually told my engineer that maybe I should have to stop because I really couldn’t see anything at all and the tire was really bad. I think from the outside it’s hard for everyone to see but from the inside it was my best race. I was like a roadblock in the corner, so I was really, really slow. I had a very bad left front tire. Even on the straight, I could hardly see anything. In my head… I wasn’t told I had a penalty so I was fighting for the win the whole time and actually the round where I was told I had to stop fighting him because that you have five seconds the penalty was when I no longer blocked and he passed me. Considering my pace I was at least a second slower than I could have been with the flat tire and still managed to keep it behind the whole race so I think that’s why it was my best drive.

Which circuit are you most looking forward to in 2022?

In fact, even though I didn’t have a good weekend last year in Monaco… to bounce back from a bad weekend last year, I want to turn things around this year and show everyone world that no matter what track I’m on, I can be as fast as anyone.

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