In India, motorsport has clearly not reached the masses and falls way behind many other disciplines.
The revelations were when Narain Karthikeyan and Karun Chandhok drove in Formula 1 or when India hosted three Grands Prix. But public memory is short, especially in India where cricket is beyond just a sport and overpowers every other discipline in terms of popularity.
Jehan Daruvala and Arjun Maini give India hope that they could be knocking on the doors of Formula 1 in a few years. If either one is successful, it could infuse fresh life and interest in Indian motorsport.
After winning in the F3 European Championship race at the Norisring recently, Sahara Force India-backed Jehan Daruvala feels Indians have the talent and skill to beat the better-experienced drivers from Europe. Maini had won the GP3 Series race in Barcelona in May.
“To win in one of the most competitive junior races makes me believe in myself. It shows young Indian drivers can do it if there is effort. We all came from there, starting in India. You need to approach the right people and requires effort,” Daruvala, driving for Carlin, told Motorsport TV.
“Obviously, Arjun’s win in GP3 shows we have the talent and skill to do it like the European drivers. But we have to work as hard, if not harder, to achieve our results,” he added.
Maini, driving with Jenzer Motorsport, felt no different after his GP3 win. “Indian motorsport is doing really well. If you see the new kids karting in the championships, you can see how impressive it looks already. I am happy to show the way with Jehan, to try and make it to the top,” he had said.
The advantage drivers and riders in India have today is that step-by-step graduation to bigger series. Karthikeyan and Chandhok were not this lucky and made it to Formula 1 the hard way.
There is a long way to go for Daruvala and Maini, and anyone else who is showing promise.
If you look at it, India began to play Test cricket in the 30s and only posted a win two decades later. Indian badminton players would have never dreamt of beating the Chinese. But, it is happening regularly now. There was never or is no dearth of talent, but it just takes time for the system and things to fall into place.
Indian motorsport is in a fledgling state and things are slowly falling into place. A couple of international wins will help immensely. Indians appear to be ready to spread their wings and dream big. More importantly, they are beginning to understand that the only way to reach the top levels is to word hard for it.