Silverstone (UK), July 14 (IANS) Indian racing sensation Jehan Daruvala scripted history as he became the first ever Indian to go atop the FIA F3 Championship leaderboard momentarily after clinching the second position in an action packed feature race at the famous Silverstone circuit here on Sunday.
However, his lead could not last for long as a DNF in the sprint race of the championship saw him slip down to the second position.
This was Jehan’s fifth podium finish of the season which helped him take a two-point lead over Russia’s Robert Shwartzman.
Jehan qualified third, a mere tenth behind Estonian racer Juri Vips who bagged pole with a lap time of 1:43.902. Jehan’s Prema Racing teammate Marcus Armstrong from New Zealand was second, just 0.016 seconds ahead of Jehan. The ultra-competitive grid had 17 of the 30 racers within just one second.
Jehan was on the attack immediately after the lights went out and overtook Kiwi racer Armstrong in the first corner itself. Denmark’s Christian Lundgaard was on Jehan’s tail but could not muster enough as Jehan defended well to hold his position. But later in the race, Vips took advantage of the scrap behind and was able to open up a sizeable gap to Jehan.
Jehan pushed hard and caught Vips after a few laps, but the Estonian began to defend. Just as Jehan was about to make a move, an incident elsewhere brought out the Virtual Safety Car, requiring Jehan to abort his overtaking attempt to on Vips.
Once the safety car was off the track, Jehan was soon all over the back of Vips, who did not yield. They both braked extremely late at one point, while Jehan attempted to overtake around the outside. Jehan went off track, allowing Armstrong in third, to go around the outside of Jehan.
The Indian had to then divert attention from his battle for the lead to keep Armstrong at bay. He was able to fend him off and then resumed to attack Vips, who once again defended aggressively. But his tyre started to overheat due ro his defensive tactics and it was only a matter of time before Jehan overtook him.
Unfortunately for Jehan, another incident caused the safety car to be deployed. This was exactly the breather that Vips was looking for, allowing him to cool his tyres for the four laps that the safety car was out.
After the safety cars were taken off, Vips with his tyre temperatures under control was able to pull away. Jehan once again caught up, but was unable to get past the Estonian who won just 0.811 seconds ahead of Jehan. Armstrong crossed the line third, 1.3 seconds behind Jehan. Jehan also had the fastest lap time in the top 10, earning him two crucial points.
“Race 1 was good, I had quite good pace. I tried to overtake Juri a few times but his defence was good, he drove well, didn’t make any mistake. It was great to get onto the top of the championship standings,” Jehan said after the race.
Jehan’s fifth podium in seven races and his points for fastest lap propelled the Indian star to the top of the championship standings, after the feature race.
Unfortunately, the championship lead did not last long, as things fell apart on the last lap of sprint race for Jehan. As per reverse grid regulations, Jehan started seventh and worked his way up to fifth.
But an intense battle saw Jehan clip the rear of Piquet’s car, which put both drivers out of the race on the last lap.
While Leonardo Pulcini won the race, Jehan not finishing the race saw him fall from the championship lead to second in the standings. Jehan will race again on August 3 and 4 at the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend.