Young Indian racer Arjun Maini spoke to Darshan Chokhani as he prepares himself for European Formula 3's fourth round in Monza this weekend.
The number of Indians racing on the international stage has steadily increased over the years, and Bangalore native Arjun is another young hopeful wishing to follow in the footsteps of India’s two Formula 1 racers Narain Karthikeyan and Karun Chandhok.
The 17-year-old, driving for Van Amersfoort Racing – Max Verstappen's old team – in the FIA European Formula 3 championship, spoke exclusively to Motorsport.com about his experiences in the series and his future ambitions.
Baptism of fire in F3
It has been a tough start for Maini in the category, his best finish being only P12 in the first two rounds at Silverstone and Hockenhein, but he was much more competitive at the previous round on the streets of Pau, taking fourth and fifth in the second and third respectively.
“The FIA European F3 series is extremely competitive. It has taken a while for things to come together,” Maini said.
"At Pau we finally managed to bring everything together for two solid top five results and my first points for the season.”
Last year in BRDC F4, he notched up wins, podiums, fastest laps and pole positions, but Maini says that F4 and F3 cars cannot be compared and that it took him a while to get used to the more powerful machinery he races now.
“The F3 cars are completely different to the F4 car in terms of power, aerodynamics and tyres, so you can't really compare them," he explained.
"In terms of difficultly it took me a while to get used to F3, but I feel more comfortable now.”
Aim for this season
Although Maini enjoyed a successful season in F4, finishing runner-up to fellow F3 graduate George Russell, he is cautious in his approach in his debut F3 season.
“My realistic aim for the season is to push for podiums and wins this year," he explains. "We came close with fourth at Pau and I'm hoping to build on my momentum.”
The car definitely is capable of winning, as shown by his teammate Charles Leclerc. It is a learning stage for the young Indian and a chance to improve as a driver as he competes with top young prospects from around the world.
“I'm also here to learn as much as I can and also develop my skillset as a driver,” Maini adds.
Gelling with other drivers
In his short international career, Maini has discovered for himself a truism in motorsports - “In racing, you can never be best friends with someone as everyone wants to win," he says.
Having said that, he has made good bonding with both his teammates, saying: “I have gotten along well with my teammates in these past few years, including my current ones Charles Leclerc and Alessio Lorandi.
"I also get on well with George Russell from my F4 days, and Santino Ferrucci, though we weren't teammates from my time in the Toyota Racing Series.”