Force India establish Indian driver academy 13 Apr 2011
Force India have set up a new driver academy to find and support talented young drivers from India. The not-for-profit programme will eventually also offer vocational and academic training for gifted individuals in various other fields within the motorsport industry.
The setting up of the Force India F1 Team Academy is a historic milestone in the sports arena in India, said Force India chairman and team principal Dr Vijay Mallya. It marks the first time that anyone has ever embarked on such an ambitious programme in India.
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.
The hunt for one from a billion gets underway in April when regional trials will be held at seven cities across India. Thousands of children aged between 14 and 17 will be given the opportunity to time trial a kart. The fastest 14 at each regional trial, plus two 'wild card' entries who showed promise but did not record a time in the top 14, will then win places at Septembers national finals.
The 100 national finalists will then be narrowed down to just ten participants, who will journey to the UK to compete in a grand finale at Silverstone. This week-long stint at the UK circuit will include driver tuition on Dmax Karts, a day at the Porsche Human Performance Centre to assess and develop fitness for motorsports, media training with Goodman Media and two full days at Silverstone with sessions on safety, car control training, driver assessment and race procedure briefing.
The ten selected drivers will complete their Silverstone experience with a race in Formula Silverstone cars, before an expert panel will pick one winner and two runners-up. The chosen three will then be announced at the inaugural Indian Grand Prix in October.
As for prizes, the overall winner will be put through a full season of racing in a competitive UK championship, although the academy envisages ongoing support with the eventual aim of helping a driver through to Formula One racing. The first runner-up will be funded for a full season of competition in an Indian championship, whilst the second runner-up will benefit from a programme of karting tuition at a suitable location in Asia.
The Force India F1 Team Academy was conceived with a vision to inspire young Indians who have talent but have so far had no proper opportunity or serious platform to showcase their innate abilities, added Mallya. I hope that this academy will give young Indians, who have the necessary passion and drive, a serious chance to show promise and an opportunity to excel, so that we can develop their talent and grow it by channelling it properly over the long-term.
If the Academy is able to place even one Indian on the F1 grid, then all the effort would have been worthwhile. I would like to thank our partners ExxonMobil for sharing our vision as together we groom future world champions and support them on every step of the long and winding journey that will ultimately prepare them for the rigours and demands of F1.
Force India plan to run a second hunt for one from a billion in 2013. For further information visit www.onefromabillion.com.