Opinion: Hand-holding for genuine talent is the immediate need
After a long time, there is hope that another Indian could secure a Formula 1 drive.
Arjun Maini and Jehan Daruvala have given us that hope. Maini was, not very long ago, picked up by Haas Formula 1 Team as the development driver and Daruvala has the backing of Sahara Force India F1 Team.
Maini is currently racing in the GP3 Series, while Daruvala is pitting his skills in the European F3 Championship. Both of them seem to be making the right progression in their careers.
The need for Indians to get to and be competitive at the international level takes a huge amount of backing. Thanks to that, Maini and Daruvala created history by posting wins in their respective championships.
For a long time after Narain Karthikeyan and Karun Chandhok drove in Formula 1, there was a huge void. There was just no system in place to given them even a basic boost. We are not even talking the financial help.
To put it plainly, Maini has tremendous support from his family. Daruvala is backed up by an F1 team.
The pertinent question to ask is, what next? Who after Maini and Daruvala? Do we have a second line of drivers that is ready to knock on the doors of big international competition?
Yes, the talent is there. Anindith Reddy, Kush Maini, Vishnu Prasad, Nayan Chatterjee, Ricky Donison, Akhil Rabindra et al. have been showing promise at the National level. Again, what next? But, are they left to fend for themselves? Or will they get lucky like Daruvala?
Motorsport is unique in the way that there is no national team. So, there is no question of the government backing them up. The Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India is under the Union Sports Ministry and the recognition is just about all the government can do.
The only other way is corporate support. The sad part is that corporate support for motorsport is very limited. There are a few big names that are heavily into motorsport, but these drivers need fare more backing up.
Dwindling media coverage could be one of the reasons for lackadaisical corporate support. Dwindling media coverage could also be the result of not pushing championships enough. Though some of the bigger National championships are noticed, some of them are hardly noticed.
If Gaurav Gill had managed a Production World Rally Championship drive a few years ago, who knows where he would have been. Or, if VR Naren Kumar had managed a PWRC drive well before 2008 by Team Sidvin India, it could have been a different story.
There needs to be a way and mechanism so that budding and talented competitors do not lose out on bigger opportunities. It can be achieved with the right kind of publicity. It is too difficult to start making motorsport something for the masses. It just needs the will of all concerned.
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