'We're bound to find a Hamilton'

Force India owner Mallya launches talent hunt for an Indian F1 driver

 BIG INITIATIVE Force India owner Vijay Mallya (centre) along with team’s test driver Nico Hulkenberg (2nd from right) during the launch of the Hunt in Bangalore on Tuesday. DH PHOTOThe bienniel programme, which is to be held for drivers between the age of 14 and 17, will be run in seven cities across India starting on April 25 at the Hakone track in Mumbai.

Fourteen finallists from each city and two wild cards will then move to the National finals to be held in either Goa or Amritsar in September.

Ten drivers who impress during the course of the National finals, will be put on a near week-long (October 3 to October 8) intensive training programme at the Silverstone track in England. The intensive training programme will comprise of driver tuitions on Dmax karts, a day at the Porche Human Performance Centre for assessment of fitness, car control training and even a media training session with the Goodman Media group.

The drivers, who will race at the Silverstone on the Formula Silverstone cars at the end of which three drivers, and whose names will be announced around the time of the inaugural Indian Grand Prix in Greater Noida, will be chosen by an expert panel of judges.

“I have been in Indian motorsports for around 30 years now and I was all along looking forward to this day,” said Mallya. “We had to work on our cars ourselves and we never had anything like this. During the Malaysian GP, I saw a Malaysian woman carrying an Indian flag up high and I was so proud at that moment. That pride and passion is irreplaceable, and I would like every youngster to feel that,” Mallya added.

Despite having drawn flak for over three years, Mallya has maintained that Indian drivers are not up to the lofty standards set by F1 and hence he chose to go with drivers from other nations but he remained hopeful that one day an Indian will drive in the world’s greatest single seater racing event.

“Ferrari doesn’t have Italian drivers, in fact most teams don’t. I have always said that in a country with 1.2 billion people we are bound to find a Lewis Hamilton some day. This programme is an attempt to find that driver,” said Mallya, who was also joined on stage by team reserve driver Nico Hulkenberg of Germany.

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