Red Bull junior Jehan Daruvala says he’s aiming to replicate Formula 1 star Lando Norris’ stellar debut Formula 2 season with Carlin and earn himself F1 graduation for 2021.
Daruvala is stepping up to F2 for 2020 – having challenged for the FIA Formula 3 crown with Prema last season and taken the title fight with his team-mate Robert Shwartzman all the way to the finale in Sochi.
Norris was immediately on the pace upon his F2 debut in 2018, winning the opening round in Bahrain as Carlin returned to the series, and although he didn’t win again, he finished runner-up to current Williams F1 driver George Russell in the title race.
Daruvala picked up Red Bull backing over the winter and has switched to Carlin. He’s aiming to match the McLaren driver’s F2 form with the British outfit that led to his F1 promotion in 2019 with McLaren.
“That would be my target,” Daruvala told Formula Scout when asked if he’s looking to replicate Norris’ 2018 season. “I want to be fighting at the front for the championship.
“It is very early to say, but obviously my main goal is to get to Formula 1 and I think this is my best chance to do so. There is a really good mix of experience and rookies coming through [in the 2020 F2 field].
“From last season we have Luca Ghiotto, Guanyu Zhou, Callum Illot and Jack Aitken and then you also have all the rookies which will be competitive. It is a really competitive field.”
Daruvala played a starring role in the FIA F2 tests in Bahrain, as he recorded the second-fastest time of the test, just 0.008 seconds adrift of Ghiotto’s benchmark. He also posted the fastest stint of any driver following Formula Scout’s post-test analysis.
However, he is refusing to get carried away by his promising testing form, admitting that fuel loads make the pecking order a relatively unknown quantity for the Austrian season-opener.
“I think pre-season went as well as it could,” he added. “Most importantly, I was comfortable in the car, but it is hard to tell how competitive we are too due to the fuel loads. But as I said the most important thing is that I am comfortable in the car.”
F2 switching to 18-inch Pirelli tyres has been one of the major talking points of the off-season, with many suggesting that mastering the temperamental Pirelli rubber will decide the championship.
The ex-Force India junior revealed he is relishing the challenge to get to grips with the tyres but admitted that they are a huge challenge.
“I think the tyres are pretty similar to last year – just bigger. If anything it should be a bit easier for the rookies, but it is still difficult to get used to them,” Daruvala explained.
“We had some race runs in Bahrain which will help but the tyres are a huge challenge. It is a challenge I am really looking forward to.”
The 2020 F2 season gets underway this weekend at the Red Bull Ring, the first of two back-to-back weekends of racing at the Austrian circuit.