India’s current highest rated motor-sport driver, Arjun Maini, has made a mark in his very first year by claiming the runner’s up position in Britain’s BRDC Formula Four Championship. The 16-year old, who races for Lanan Racing, lost the title just by three points to teammate Geroge Rusell.
In an email interview with this website, Arjun, shared his views about his successful 2014 as a racer, his relation with the team and future plans:
2014 BRDC F4 Championship was your first year in Formula 4. Did you imagine carrying the runner’s up trophy at the end of the season?
We first started looking at the BRDC F4 championship seriously in February earlier this year. Since it was a last minute decision, I had a really late start. We started testing in March and I had my First F4 race in April. Considering that I only had six test days before my first race I thought that a top five result would be really good for me. Instead, I was fighting for the top spot in the championship. So yes at times I surprise myself of how much I keep improving and keep getting better.
As a teenager was it difficult for you to accept the defeat as you just fell short of three points and lost the championship to teammate Geroge Russell?
Infact it was not easy, because you spent a whole year fighting for something and you got so close yet the destination remained unreachable. I think the most important thing is to learn to accept defeat, only then you will grow and become a better racing driver. But then at the beginning of the year if someone told me that I was going to come second in the championship, I would have been delighted and it would have been easy.
Whom would you credit for your successful year as a racing driver? And whom would you like to thank for making you the driver today you are?
Well, first of all I wouldn't be a racing driver if it were not for my parents so they would be on the top of that list. I would also like to thank my sponsors. My Driver coach this year Joey Foster has been exceptional. The best driver coach I have worked with so far and he understanding me so well makes a huge difference. The team Lanan racing was fantastic and they are like a family to me now. Especially Graham Johnson my Engineer, George Dutfield and Barry Pomfret my mechanics and the rest of the team.
At present, you are the highest rated Indian motor-racing driver. Do you expect any- time calls from Indian-based Formula One team, Sahara Force India?
I think if and when they believe the time is right they will come to me.
Max Verstappen has backed a F1 team, Toro Rosso, at the age of 17. What went through your nerves when you read that news, since you will also turn 17 in December?
I enjoyed reading the news. It gave me the feel that Formula One is just around the corner if everything goes really well for me from now on!
As the 2014 Formula 4 season has ended, tell us about your upcoming projects for this year and 2015?
We are starting by testing cars from a couple of categories and will decide basing upon how we feel after the test days. We have a couple of days testing in Formule Three lined up. And will plan further soon.
Are you planning to continue your collaboration with Britain’s Lanan Racing?
We don’t know yet but I am and forever will be a part of the Lanan racing family so you can not count anything out.
Your father, Gautam Maini, was also a racing driver. Was there any piece of advice from him ahead of the final race at Snetterton, where you had to finish in the podium to claim the championship?
My father told me to just drive with my heart and to give my best and enjoy my drive as always. Regardless of the result, he would still be proud of me for all I have done.
Who funds your racing in Britain? Do you have any help from Indian sponserors?
I am currently being supported by JK tyre and Kirloskar electric and I do hope after my recent performances I would be able to get more sponsors to help support the costs.
Any incident that comes in your mind immediately with the crew of Lanan Racing from the 2014 season?
Lanan racing have been brilliant all year. They made sure that the car was 100% ready before every race and every nut and bolt was in the right place and to make sure I had no mechanical failures all year was brilliant.
What kind of relationship you share with your team principal, Graham Johnson?
Graham Johnson was the team principal but he was also my race engineer. It was very important to build a good relationship with Graham so that he could understand my feedback properly and help improve the car to make it easy to drive. Graham was also like a father to me so yes it was great having him as our engineer to help us get the best car posiible.
If you ever felt low during the races, who was your go-to person from the Lanan Racing’s crew?
I would go to either Joey Foster or George Dutfield as I have spent most my time with them and they understand me the most so yes it would be either Joey or George. But fortunately I was very positive all year and very happy the whole year.