F3 Asia: Daruvala, Maini secure podiums as Mumbai Falcons ends up in Top 3
The Indian outfit ended up in Top 3 after podiums for both drivers in finale.
It was about keeping himself in check in Top 3 for Mumbai Falcons' Jehan Daruvala in the final round of the 2021 FIA Formula 3 Asian Championship, as after the fourth round, the title fight seemingly inched towards Pierre-Louis Chovet and Guanyu Zhou.
Daruvala started the final round at Yas Marina circuit in style, finishing second and first in the two test sessions, where teammate Kush Maini was third and ninth. The lone free practice session had the former end up second, while the the latter was ninth.
The Qualifying 1 for Race 1 saw Daruvala end up third behind Abu Dhabi Racing by Prema's Zhou and Evans GP's Patrick Pasma, with Maini showing good pace in fifth. The Qualifying 2 for Race 3 had the former in third again, with the latter finishing eighth - after both had their lap deleted.
Zhou was on pole again from Pasma. The first race under lights saw a slow start from Daruvala as he dropped behind in the middle of the Top 10. The Finn, meanwhile, led the Chinese driver to win the race, despite mighty efforts from the latter to pass him.
The results changed, however, with Pasma getting a five-seconds time penalty for speeding under the yellow flag. This dropped him to second, allowing Zhou to claim the win and eat into the points lead of Chovet. There was a long gap then to third, meanwhile.
Hitech GP's Roman Stanek held onto third for long until the late mechanical issue which helped Maini to finally have some luck in F3 Asia to finish on the podium. His teammate Daruvala was seventh but set the third fastest time for Race 2 behind Zhou and Pasma, with Maini fifth.
The penultimate race of the weekend started on a sour note for Chovet, who crashed out, thereby allowing Zhou to take control of the drivers' standings by one point after finishing second to Pasma, with Daruvala finishing a straight third.
It was another good show from Maini - especially after his engine change in last round - to finish fourth, very close behind his teammate. It was looking good for Zhou in the final race, starting from pole, while Chovet did so from outside the Top 5.
It was a valiant effort from the Frenchman, finishing fifth, as he couldn't do much after Zhou took a lights-to-flag win to claim the 2021 F3 Asia championship. It was Pasma in second with Daruvala unable to get by the Finn, while Maini ended up seventh.
With 257 points in his kitty, Zhou took the drivers' championship and the 18 superlicense points as Chovet was second with 241 and Daruvala third with 192 - where the Indian took away 12 superlicense points. Maini ended up just outside the Top 10 in 11th with 55 points, as Mumbai Falcons finished an impressive third in the teams' standings with 247 points.
The Indian outfit had a troubled weekend in Dubai which dents its driver's title chances.
[Image courtesy: Inder Gujral]