Force India today announced plans to create a driving academy designed to nurture young Indian F1 talent.
The Force India F1 Team Academy will provide financial support to up-and-coming drivers to help them reach the highest echelons of the sport.
Over the next two years children aged between 14 and 17 will be able to take part in a go-kart time trial event with the best performers going head-to-head against each other in regional finals.
The ten best drivers will then travel to Silverstone for a week-long driver assessment period.
From these ten the team will pick three drivers:
- The winner will be put through a full season of racing in a competitive UK championship
- The first runner up will go on to race in a full season of racing in a competitive Indian championship
- The third-placed driver will benefit from a programme of karting tuition at a suitable location in Asia
“The setting up of the Force India F1 Team Academy is a historic milestone in the sports arena in India. It marks the first time that anyone has ever embarked on such an ambitious programme in India,” said Force India chairman and team principal, Vijay Mallya.
“Our goal is to create a pool of talent and groom aspirants who show exceptional promise by providing them with the necessary corporate funding and support.
“Our programmes will provide a clear professional career path in motorsport so that one day our selected candidates are able to represent India in the international arena and hopefully bring glory to the nation,” he said.
The value of young driver programmes has been obvious in recent years. World champion Sebastian Vettel came through BMW junior ranks and Lewis Hamilton similarly did at McLaren before gaining a race seat in 2007.
Other drivers to embark on similar routes include Sergio Perez with Ferrari and Toro Rosso test driver Daniel Ricciardo who is part of Red Bull’s junior scheme.
Growth in India
Force India hope the academy will widen interest in a sport which has grown significantly within India over the last few years.
Narain Karthikeyan, now of Hispania, became the first Indian F1 driver in 2005 when he raced for Jordan and in 2007 Force India became the first Indian team when it bought out Spyker.
This year will also see the first-ever Indian Grand Prix at the end of October.