“I want to go out there and drive the car as fast as I can, but my main aim, in the beginning, is to learn as much as I can” - Jehan Daruvala on his first F1 test with McLaren
Jehan Daruvala is on the road to Formula 1. With the announcement of his first drive in a Formula 1 car with McLaren, along with a strong Formula 2 campaign so far, there is more than enough reason to believe that Daruvala is well on his way to becoming the third Indian to ever drive in F1. We talk to the young Indian driver about his test, goals and what comes next. Let’s see what he has to say about his own chances!
Bagging the test with McLaren
“McLaren run their own testing program, the TPC (Testing Previous Car) programme, and so far the year has been going pretty well. We have been looking for opportunities to drive a Formula 1 car, and being part of the Red Bull Junior team, I'm really happy to get this opportunity. McLaren had it and they gave it to us, we grabbed it with both hands. At the end of the day, its my dream to drive a Formula 1 car and to get to do it with a team like McLaren, who have won many many world championships, is definitely something I would love to do.”
Goals and targets for the test
“Obviously, I want to go out there and drive the car as fast as I can, but my main aim, in the beginning, is to learn as much as I can. It's tempting to go flat out in the beginning, but we do have a programme that we want to run through, both long runs and short runs. For me, I'll also be learning all the switches and stuff, so it's going to be learning days. But at the end of the day, I'm a racing driver so I'm going to drive as fast as I can and really enjoy myself. I already did spend a couple of days [in the simulator] to learn the switches and steering wheel.”
Mumbai Falcons involvement
“With the costing side of things, I've signed an NDA with McLaren, so I can't really disclose much, but Mumbai Falcons have been a big support to me and are definitely helping me in my career in Formula 2 and also hopefully to go to Formula 1.”
Current Formula 2 season
“I think it's been a pretty decent season so far, I've done pretty well. Obviously, I want to be fighting for the championship, which I'm close to but not quite there – I'm in the top three. There are only 20 seats on the grid in Formula 1 and the competition is quite intense, but this test together with my F2 results gives me confidence. It's the next step in my career. I want to go to Formula 1 and driving an F1 car is such a step forward, and I'm really happy to do it.”
Red Bull’s response to the test with McLaren
“It doesn't matter. I'm still part of the Red Bull Junior Team, they have given me their full support for this test, and that's the main thing. I'm ready to drive a Formula 1 car and I have full support from the Red Bull junior team, and I'm also driving for McLaren, so it all works out really well. I'm still definitely 100 per cent part of the Red Bull Junior Program. I've obviously had to take permission and they have given me the freedom to go and test a Formula 1 car. If there is an opportunity for one of their juniors to test a Formula 1 car they're never going to say no, so I'm really happy and grateful. Regarding my season, all the feature races have not gone to plan, but it's more down to bad luck. So I'm not worried about it, we have a lot of races coming up now and hopefully, that'll run out soon.
To be honest, me and my dad had a conversation with Dr Marko saying there's an opportunity for me to be testing with McLaren, and he was more than happy for me to take it. You don't get many opportunities to drive a Formula 1 car that often. It will be my first time. The opening came up with McLaren because they run this testing programme looking at young drivers and at the end of the day it's an opportunity for me to drive an F1 car and Red Bull allowed me. I'm 100 per cent still committed to the Red Bull team and I'm just grateful that they gave me the opportunity.”
Opening up more doors
“Regarding the 2023 seat, this is nothing related to me getting a drive next year in Formula 1. There's not many seats opening up in Formula 1, but I've got the opportunity to test an F1 car, and I want to make an impression and always do well, and if do get the opportunity to drive in F1 I want to be ready, so that's the main objective to prepare me for Formula 1 and make sure I tick all the boxes before hopefully, I can get a seat.”
“My goal is to get a seat in 2023, but the likelihood of seats opening is really small. But I want to finish off this season in F2 really well. It's going pretty well so far, I'll hopefully be fighting for the championship all the way to Abu Dhabi. I just have to put myself out there for a seat in Formula 1. I don't know what is and what is not going to open but hopefully, I do enough that my name is out there to get a seat in the future.”
Learning is key
“The 2021 car is probably one of the fastest cars ever in F1, and as I said earlier, my main goal for this test is to learn. I've never driven a Formula 1 car before and we have a program to run through. I have to learn the car and its characteristics and then I can really find its limits.
I prepared on a simulator for a couple of days before the test. Apart from that, a good friend of mine is Lando, so I could speak to him a bit, but the main thing is for me to feel the car myself and listen to the engineers and the team who are there, they have a lot more knowledge than I do about the car and the driving style etc. So the main thing for me would be to learn what they are saying and to follow the programme that I need to follow.”
Difference in fitness between F1 and F2
“I haven't experienced the Gs in F1 yet, but that's the biggest step up from Formula 2. I have driven cars for quite long now, and in terms of fitness, I have never really struggled. So I just want to ensure that when I jump into a Formula 1 car I don't have a problem. I have been training my neck a lot more than I have had to do.”
Reserve role opportunity
“As of now, it's [reserve and third driver role] definitely something that is important to have a foot in the door of Formula 1. If I don't get a race seat, the next step is obviously a reserve role. It's quite difficult. If I have to have a reserve role for next year with the possibility of a seat opening up in 2024, I have to take it. I don't think it's that easy to anyway get a full-time drive for next year, so my sole focus is just to try to get into Formula 1.”