BENGALURU: Close on the heels of being signed up as a development driver for the Haas Formula 1 team, Arjun Maini has created another bit of history, by becoming the first Indian to win a GP3 Series race.
This was in the first round of the season. Two races were held as support events to the Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix over the weekend in Catalunya (Barcelona).
The Bengalurean, driving for Jenzer Motorsport, finished seventh in the first race and stormed to victory in the second after qualifying in sixth place.
Dorian Boccolacci (Trident team) was second and the Indian won by just over six seconds. Maini is now third in the championship standings with 21 points. Nirei Fukuzumi leads with 29.
Perhaps inspired by getting signed up by Haas a couple of days ago, this victory is going to do a lot of good for his career, as GP3 is just a couple of steps away from Formula One. This win is bound to make people notice that the 19-year-old indeed has talent.
“I started under pressure as it was essential for me to get to the front from the beginning. The lead came at the first corner and it was a nerve-racking first five laps with Boccolacci on my tail and his attempts to overtake me while we were in the DRS zone. Once I broke away from the DRS zone, I was able to focus on pace and started to build the gap. It was the most amazing feeling as I crossed the finish line and it started to sink in that I had my first race win in GP3,” Maini told Express.
“I just had to maintain my pace and save the tyres as much as I could. A lot of happy emotions took over. I want to thank the team because they’ve been working really hard since the beginning of the year. To finally give this good result with both cars to them is incredible. I think Jenzer deserve it. We have a strong chance. I’m looking forward to the next round. We’ll see how it goes,” he said at the post-race press conference.
Speaking about the first race, he said, “I was very disappointed with that one. My pace was not there as it usually is for various reasons. So we looked at things overnight and made a few changes in the car. On Sunday, it was back to normally. I was happy with the pace. We were very strong and managed to pull a big gap.”
Former F1 driver Karun Chandhok remarked, “There was a lot of pressure on him but he drove smartly. His defence was very good and once he settled down, Arjun used the DRS wisely and broke away from the pack.”
The second round is in Austria in July.