Hunt for India's next Formula One driver begins

Hunt for India's next Formula One driver begins

The Academy, a not-for-profit entity based in India, will be involved in identifying and nurturing young racing talent in the country between the ages of 14 and 17 over a five-year period by providing vocational training and specialised academic courses related to the field, Vijay Mallya, Chairman and Team Principal, Force India Formula One Team said here today.

"The Force India F1 team was conceived with a vision to inspire young Indians who have the talent but so far had no proper opportunity or serious platform to showcase their innate abilities", he said.

"I hope this academy will give young Indians who have the necessary passion and drive, a serious chance to show promise and an opportunity to excel, so that we can develop their talent and grow it by channelling it properly over the long term," he added.

Describing the setting up of the Academy as a "historic milestone" in the sports arena in India, he said, "it's the first-time ever anyone has embarked on such an ambitious programme to create a pool of talent and groom aspirants who show exceptional promise by providing the necessary corproate funding and support back with a crystal clear professional career path in motorsport so that one day, they can go on to represent India in the international arena".

The Academy, which is being funded by Force India and supported by its corporate partners, will on April 25th launch the 'Hunt for F1 from a billion', which would focus on identifying racing talent via a karting programme organised in seven cities across the country, a Force India statement said.

After the regional trials, 14 finalists would be selected from each city, and would proceed to the next level, it said. In September this year, 100 finalists would compete against each other to progress to the next level, it added. From October 3 to 8, 10 selected finalists from the national final would undergo a week-long initiative stint at Silverstone, UK, it said.

The selected drivers would complete their Silverstone experience with a race in Formula Silverstone cars. At the end of the session, three winners would be selected and announced in India on October 11 around the time of the Indian Grand Prix, it said. The Indian GP will be held on October 30 at Greater Noida.

The winner would go through a full season of racing in a competitive championship in the UK while the first runner-up will go through a full season of racing in a competitive championship in India and the third runner-up would receive special racing tuitions in an Asian racing school, it said.

The Academy would "fully support" the winner over the next three years and career path would be drawn out depending on the progress, the statement said.
"The intention is to groom the winner through various stages leading up to a point where the winner is qualified and ready to apply for a super license from the FIA to drive in Formula One," Mallya said.