Jeddah, Mar 19 (IANS): India's Jehan Daruvala raced to his 16th Formula 2 podium on Saturday with a hard-fought third-place finish in the Sprint race of the championship's Saudi Arabian round, here.
The 24-year-old MP Motorsport driver started fifth and was hustling eventual winner Ayumu Iwasa for the win but dropped to third just three laps from the end after making a daring bid for the lead that very nearly earned him his first win of the season.
Still, he crossed the line just over a second behind Iwasa and less than half a second behind runner-up Victor Martins to score his second successive podium around the barrier-lined, high-speed sweeps of the Red Sea track.
''To be honest, there are a bunch of mixed emotions,'' said Jehan after the race on Saturday.
''I would definitely say I was disappointed I didn't win because the car was very good and I had a lot of pace today…but also not disappointed because I took a lot of risks.
I have no regrets. I tried to win the race and, in the end, it didn't pay off," he added.
Jehan made a lightning start off the line but was boxed in by the Campos cars of Ralph Boschung and compatriot Kush Maini.
A second-lap safety car that bunched the field up gave him a shot at passing Maini and Jehan duly seized the opportunity to muscle his way past his fellow Indian and set off in pursuit of Red Bull-backed racer Jak Crawford.
Jehan dispatched Crawford on Lap 7 just seconds before a collision between Theo Pourchaire and Oliver Bearman triggered a second safety car period.
Jehan was hot on second-placed Boschung's heels as the race got underway. The Swiss racer was powerless to resist the MP Motorsport racer's charge as he swept around the outside of Turn 1 to take second.
He then battled Iwasa, while also keeping the rapid Martins behind him at bay, before ultimately having to concede after his turn 1 gamble for a fifth F2 win failed to pay off.
The podium was Jehan's first of the season. Set to move up one spot on the grid to fourth after a penalty for Theo Pourchaire, he has a good chance of completing a podium sweep.
Jehan, however, is eyeing victory.
''All in all, I'm happy,'' he said.
''I think I can even fight for the win tomorrow in the Feature Race," he added.