Lot more in racing than just Formula 1

Talk to any youngster who does track racing and the aim is to be racing in Formula 1.

Lot more in racing than just Formula 1
Track action
Sirish Vissa, Head of Volkswagen Motorsport India
Aditya Patel, Team Audi R8 LMS Cup
Starting grid
Karthik Tharani
Arya Singh
Track action
Devin Robertson
Anindith Reddy
Atmosphere in the garage

While it is good to be ambitious, the harsh reality is that it is extremely difficult for someone coming from India. While Narain Karthikeyan and Karun Chandhok made it, only they know the struggle of getting to the ‘pinnacle of motorsport’.

What many of today’s youngsters do not understand is that there is a lot more in motorsport than F1.

“In terms of aspirational value, everybody wants to go to F1. The reality is that there are far more opportunities for people to drive in Touring Cars, Sportscars and Prototypes than in F1,” felt Sirish Vissa, who heads the motorsport division in Volkswagen India.

“Most of the people who aspire for F1 get to a certain level and then divert, instead of taking this other path.”

Part of the problem may be that Indian motorsport is behind many other countries in terms of the machinery used. The MRF F1600, JK Euro 17 and Volkswagen Ameo Cup used very modern cars but otherwise, out-of-production cars are still used.

To get that excitement of entering motorsport, we need to have the latest production cars on the grid for events like the Touring Championship.

“In India, we need make things more aspirational. That means bringing in really exciting and new cars,” said Vissa.

“In Sholavaram, we could see everything that you could buy and imported machinery as well. People had enthusiasm to come and see.

“We have regressed somewhere and some of the cars we are using are out of production. We need to get that connect back,” he added.

Multiple National rally champion, racer and veteran tuner, N Leelakrishnan, said: “At the end of the day, modern machinery is cost. We are racing at a fraction of the cost. We need sponsors to come in so that better machinery can be procured and used.

“It is not like we have four different levels of formula racing. We have the basic level of racing but beyond that, there has to be something better,” he added.

Leelakrishnan believes that drivers do not always know what they are good at. “Unless things improve, drivers will not know what they need to get into,” he said.

“If there is a grid of 30 in formula racing, maybe those at the back of the grid will realise they are better off in touring cars. Then, there should be a good option for them,” he argued.

“There should be say, a grid of 30. Then if the last 10 realise they are better off in touring cars. Things should grow simultaneously.”

The fact is that if racing is more colourful with modern machinery, there is a better chance of sponsors getting in. Moreover, publicity is crucial too.

“Grassroot development will happen if there is more publicity. Apart from the hardcore motorsport lovers, the average person does not know what is going on. Without crowds, how will new sponsors come? Organisers should take that extra step and publicise events,” felt Leelakrishnan.

Vissa added: “Motorsport is not a professional sport in India, like in Europe or Australia. We need to have TV deals and for that apart from modern cars. It is a circle and we need to get started.

“More importantly, we need to start building heroes out of our drivers. They need to be made heroes so that kids have someone to look up to.

“We have talent in touring or sportscars. Aditya Patel or Karthik Tharani are as good as anyone else in the world. We need to find a way to spot new talent and nurture it,” he added.


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