Kush Maini after announcing his plan to compete in the one-make SMP F4 and Spanish F4 championship in 2016 talked to Motorsport.com on his preparations and goal for the season.
The 15-year-old has experienced the formula cars competing in the India-based JK Tyre series [two races] last year but 2016 will be his first full year in single-seater racing, after a successful karting season.
With elder brother Arjun continuing in the European F3 championship, Kush aims for a convincing and fruitful first season, in his quest to become a Formula 1 driver.
Kush will start his 2016 programme with the pre-season testing scheduled for at the end of this month.
Why did you choose the SMP and Spanish F4’s rather than the BRDC, Italian, MSA or Italian F4 championships?
Kush MAINI: Both the SMP Formula 4 and Spanish Formula 4 championships are one-make championships, this means all the cars will be equal and I can focus purely on my driving. Also, the prize money for winning SMP F4, in particular, is quite a lot and it will definitely help me if I decide to move to Formula 3 in the following year.
Finally, as we have seen with Niko Kari who is a Red Bull junior driver for 2016, the opportunities presented in the SMP F4 championship is as good as in the ones in the UK, Italy or Germany.
What’s the biggest challenge you will face as a driver while making the transition from karts to cars?
KM: The biggest challenge for me would be learning all the new circuits. I have to race on 14 different tracks that are over four kilometers long and adapting them quickly will be key.
In terms of preparation, what is the biggest difference between gearing up for a kart race as opposed to a formula car race?
KM: My cardio sessions have definitely increased. Also, I’m spending a lot of time on the simulator and paying closer attention to the notes I make. I believe a greater attention to detail is key in finding those last few tenths.
Your brother Arjun had quite a strong debut in the BRDC F4 championship a few years ago, has he helped you in making the transition to cars?
KM: Yes, Arjun has helped me quite a bit on the sim so far. Obviously, coming from the BRDC series, most of the tracks are new to him as well, however, he has tested F3 cars on few tracks I will be competing on and he has helped me wherever he could, especially in terms of setting benchmarks and providing feedback.
What is you goal for this year?
KM: My main aim will be to consistently improve as a driver. Realistically, I will be targeting a top 5 or top 3 in both the championships. Although I will aim for a win in every race I compete in.
Finally, how does it feel to not be allowed to drive legally on the road, but at the same time race cars that exceed speeds over 200 kmph?
KM: It definitely feels weird. I mean obviously if I could I’m sure I can drive on the roads better than even some people who have licenses, but the laws in India don’t allow me to and that’s the way it is.
Interview by Rahul Sharan