Weekend preview: F1, Daruvala, Maini brothers

Rachit Thukral

F1 (Spanish Grand Prix)

F1 (Spanish Grand Prix) Andrew Hone / LAT Images

Andrew Hone / LAT Images

The Formula 1 fraternity heads to Spain this weekend for the first non-flyaway race of the season.

Mercedes has stolen a march on its rivals in 2019 with four consecutive one-two finishes, putting it 74 points clear of Ferrari in the championship standings.

Ferrari is still searching for its first win of the year, having blown away a likely victory in Bahrain last month.

If there is one venue where it has the best shot of ending its winless streak, it has to be Barcelona.

The Spanish circuit was the venue of both pre-season tests which Ferrari dominated, and although the temperatures would have risen significantly since March, Ferrari is still arguably the strongest proponent heading into the race.

Barcelona is known to be tricky for overtaking, meaning all Scuderia needs to do is to sort its qualifying weakness and put one of its car on pole for the race.

Jehan Daruvala (F3, Barcelona)

Jehan Daruvala (F3, Barcelona) Joe Portlock / LAT Images

Joe Portlock / LAT Images

Jehan Daruvala’s campaign in the new F3 series begins this weekend in Barcelona and the pressure will be on the Indian driver to build on the potential he has shown in the lower rungs of the junior single-seater ladder.

2019 is a crucial year for Daruvala’s career, not least because he’s driving for Prema, the team that is expected to be the benchmark in F3.

While the 20-year-old has a car capable of fighting for the championship, he also has to deal with two strong rivals within his own team, namely Marcus Armstrong and Robert Shwartzman.

Both Armstrong and Schwartzman have proven their credentials in European F3 in the past, and beating them in the same machinery will go some way in raising his stocks.

Mahindra (Formula E, Monaco)

Mahindra (Formula E, Monaco) Dom Romney / LAT Images

Dom Romney / LAT Images

Mahindra Racing will be aiming for a huge chunk of points in this Saturday’s Monaco E-Prix after falling adrift of its rivals last time out in Paris.

Although Mahindra rediscovered its early season form in the French capital and locked out the front row of the grid, failure to meet the minimum tyre pressure limit forced both of its car to start at the back of the pace.

However, fortunately for the Indian manufacturer, its race pace was encouraging in wet conditions, providing the most clear indication that it has got on top of its recent slump.

As such, expect Mahindra to fight for a podium - or even a victory - for the first time since Mexico and slowly bridge the gap to the top contenders in the standings.

Arjun Maini (European Le Mans Series, Monza)

Arjun Maini (European Le Mans Series, Monza) ELMS

ELMS

Arjun Maini will take part in the second round of European Le Mans series at Monza this weekend.

The race will serve as a crucial preparatory outing for Maini ahead of his debut in the Le Mans 24 Hours next month.

It’s hard to guess where Maini will finish this weekend, his team having returned to the LMP2 class of ELMS after a long hiatus.

However, with the experience of a talented teammate like Bruno Senna, Maini will be hoping for a better result than the eighth place finish he achieved at Paul Ricard last month.

Kush Maini (Formula Renault Eurocup, Silverstone)

Kush Maini (Formula Renault Eurocup, Silverstone) DPPI

DPPI

Kush Maini will be aiming for a maiden victory in the Formula Renault Eurocup series this weekend after an encouraging showing in the season opener.

The younger of the Maini brothers scored a podium in his very race in the series at Monza, suggesting that he is already in tune with the car.

,p> Moreover, Silverstone, the venue for this weekend’s race, is a track Maini is familiar with, thanks to his successful exploits in the BRDC British F3 series last year.

WRC (Rally Chile)

WRC (Rally Chile)

Thierry Neuville heads to Chile on the back of successive victories in France and Argentina which have put him 10 points clear of defending champion Sebastien Ogier.

The Belgian is enjoying his best ever start to a WRC season and could well win the title this year after finishing runner-up for the last three seasons.

However, Ogier continues to remain a strong threat, having finished on the podium in all but one round this season.

One cannot also discount Toyota ace Ott Tanak, who finds himself trailing Neuville by 28 points due to reasons largely out of his control.

Advait Deodhar (NASCAR Euro, Italy)

Advait Deodhar (NASCAR Euro, Italy) NASCAR Euro Series

NASCAR Euro Series

Advait Deodhar will switch to the Speedhouse 64 team for the second round of NASCAR Euro series in Italy.

Deodhar will pilot a Chevrolet SS, having previously driven a Chevrolet Camaro during his stint with Dexwet DF1 Racing.

In the season opener at Valencia, Deodhar started only 13th on the grid but was able to rapidly rise up the order, bagging fifth overall and a rookie podium finish.