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‘Jehan has to deliver consistently’

There is no automatic entry into Formula One, says his mentor Dr. Marko

Indian racer Jehan Daruvala’s performance in the Formula 2 season opener is a “definite step forward” but he needs to deliver consistently to have a shot at graduating to Formula One, his mentor and chief of Red Bull’s much acclaimed driver development program, Dr. Helmut Marko, said.

After a mixed debut season last year, India’s F1 hopeful Jehan finds himself third in the Formula 2 standings after the first round in Bahrain where he finished second and fourth in the two sprint races before coming sixth in the feature race. The current season is being seen as a make or break one for the 22-year-old from Mumbai, who is aiming to become only the third Indian to reach Formula 1 after Narain Karthikeyan and Karun Chandhok.

Aim should be the title

Marko, who played a pivotal role in the career of four-time champion Sebastian Vettel and has produced umpteen Formula 1 drivers, said the aim for Jehan has to be to win the title and Red Bull will take it from there though there is no automatic entry to their junior team Alpha Tauri. “The first round was a definite step forward than last year but he still has to improve. The aim has to be to win the championship. He still has to improve in some areas but at the moment after one race, it is okay,” Marko, a former Formula 1 driver, said ahead of the Imola Grand Prix this weekend.

“The aim has to be to win the title but he doesn’t automatically get a Formula 1 seat by doing that. It is just one race. It is far too early to say at this stage. Everything is related to performance.

Marko said that it will be premature to talk about his Formula 1 chances.

“Performance is the key to to development as a Red Bull driver. It is unfair to be talking about a Formula 1 seat at this stage. There are other young drivers also and two Red Bull drivers also (Juri Vips and Liam Lawson in Formula 2). We will see who are the ones succeeding,” said the 77-year-old from Austria.

Jehan was signed by Red Bull last year and despite a mixed run in 2020, he did enough to secure an extension for 2021.

Catching attention

In 2019, Jehan grabbed eyeballs with a third-place finish in the Formula 3 Championship and was a title contender for the the major part of the season.

Asked why he chose Jehan among a plethora of young drivers for the Red Bull junior program, Marko said: “He finished third in F3 but for the majority of the season he was a championship contender. But we saw potential and looked at the personality of the driver. Out of the group he interested us.

“We would not have picked him if we did not think that he didn’t have the potential to reach Formula 1 “But potential doesn’t mean he will make it. I don’t want to be over enthusiastic. Just give him time if he produces top class performances we will see. Lets see what reality brings.” Jehan’s teammate last year, Honda-backed Yuki Tsunoda, earned a seat at Alpha Tauri for 2021 after an exceptional run in Formula 2 which culminated in third place in the championship.

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