CHENNAI: “I was faster than Sebastian Vettel.” Words guaranteed to earn you looks of disbelief and ridicule, especially when you are a 16-year-old kid from Mumbai. Not when you are Jehan Daruvala, though.
The German National Karting Championship, in which Daruvala races, recently had a visitor in the form of four-time F1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel who dropped on in on the leg opening round held in Ampfing, Bavaria, in May. Vettel, taking a break from a wretched start to the F1 season, raced for Michael Schumacher’s KSM karting team but it was Daruvala who clocked better times than the German superstar.
“I did not interact with him directly, but I came to know that he was asking around about me and my timings because I was going faster than him,” the Sahara Force India academy driver told TNIE.
“It was incredible to go faster than a four- time Formula One champion and I will try use this boost to propel me even further in my career,” he said.
Daruvala, who won the British KF3 karting championships last year, has been racing in the KF2 championships this year. “This season has been tough, my toughest one yet. All the karters I have come up against are very experienced and so it has been a big learning curve.”
While contemporary Indian racers like Arjun Maini and Tarun Reddy have moved onto single-seated racing series, Daruvala is content to do another season of karting before making the step up. “I plan to do another season of karting before making the grade up. I see no problems with doing another season. It has been a great experience so far and hopefully it will stand me in good stead later in my racing career,” he said.
Daruvala got his big break after becoming one of the three drivers selected as part of Force India’s ‘One in a Billion’ hunt in 2011 and is pleased with the way the F1 team has backed him since then. “I have full confidence in the path that Force India has charted out for me. Right from the beginning, they have given me the best of everything. I have been able to kart all across Europe and have been able to interact with the technicians at the Force India base at Silverstone and learn more about what goes on behind the scenes. I look forward to following the path that they have laid down for me and hopefully I’ll be able to drive for the team in Formula One one day,” he said.