Indian driver Kush Maini of Campos Racing fought off a strong challenge from Arthur Leclerc of DAMS in a rain-interrupted race to claim his first-ever Formula 2 podium with a third-place finish in the Sprint Race at Albert Park, in Melbourne on Saturday.
Maini started from P3 on the grid on prime tyres and held on to his position for several laps while Arthur Leclerc was right behind him putting pressure on the softer tyres.
Leclerc got past Maini on Lap 7, but the Indian fought back and made a last second dive onto the inside and reclaimed his spot.
The race took place in damp conditions, with the drivers battling it out in an attritional race.
Leclerc kept the pressure on through the safety car restarts as well but Maini held on to a well-deserved maiden podium in F2.
Leclerc past Maini... Maini past Leclerc! ��
We loved this duel for the final podium place ��#AusGP #F2 pic.twitter.com/dL9EANEYGz
- Formula 2 (@Formula2) April 1, 2023
"I have been waiting on the doorstep of getting onto a podium and narrowly missed it at Bahrain," the 22-year-old said.
This is Maini's first season as a rookie in the Formula 2 series, after finishing 14th overall in Formula 3 last year.
"It was great to get my first podium on a new track as a rookie. It is most important to keep consistent as it's a very long series. We have had a good start to the season so far with consistency in qualifying - always in the top 8."
Dennis Hauger (MP Motorsport) and Jak Crawford (Hitech Pulse-Eight) took the top-two finishes.
The other Indian in the fray, Jehan Daruvala driving MP Motorsport had a disappointing 17th place finish, after consecutive podium finishes in the previous round in Saudi Arabia. A 12th place start was further compounded by a late pit-stop that saw him drop down the order.
The two Indian racers will be in action during the feature race, with Maini starting from eighth position.