CHENNAI: The racing circuits of Europe, long accustomed to the smell of pasta ham and cheese, will have a distinct whiff of curry about them this year. An unprecedented number of young Indian drivers will be testing their skills across various Formulas this season, with some of them already setting sights on the holy grail that is Formula One.
Prominent amongst them is Arjun Maini, who will be racing in the FIA European Formula Three Championship. The 17-year-old, whose younger brother Kush will also be karting across Europe this season, is already in England to prepare for his first race this weekend. “We have had a limited amount of testing, but hopes are high. Arjun’s pace has been up there with the best. He is just back from a stint in New Zealand, racing in the Toyota Racing Series. He knows that a great season may lead to a Formula One spot in as less as two years,” Arjun’s father Gautham told Express.
If Arjun needs any more incentive, he only needs to look to the man (or boy!) whose spot he is taking up this year. Driving for Arjun’s team Van Amersfoort Racing in Formula Three last year was a certain Max Verstappen, who is now driving a Toro Rosso car in F1.
Also joining the Bangalore-based boy in Formula Three will be Mahaveer Raghunathan, who will be driving for Team Motopark. “There is the knowledge that a good season here might lead to F1 in a couple of years. I drove Formula Four in Italy last year and I am looking ahead,” said Mahaveer.
A spot down the rung, two Indians will be fighting out in the Formula Four championships. Tarun Reddy is no stranger to the likes of Silverstone and Brands Hatch, having raced there last year during the Formula Renault championships. He will be driving for team Double R Racing, which not so long ago, used to be called Raikkonen-Robertson racing after founder and former F1 champion Kimi Raikkonen. Joining him will be 18-year-old Akhil Rabindra, who was selected for the FIA Academy a couple of years ago. London-based driver of Indian origin Ameya Vaidhyanathan will also be competing.
The youngest, and probably the brightest F1 hope of the lot, Jehan Daruvala will also be making his single-seater debut in the Formula Renault championships. The 16-year-old, who came within a whisker of winning the German Karting Championships last year, got 16 days of testing under his belt over the last couple of months.