Valencia: Force India chairman Vijay Mallya said the Silverstone-based outfit is committed to unearth India’s next Formula One driver, saying there must be a Lewis Hamilton hidden somewhere in the country’s billion-plus population.
Talking to reporters on the eve of tomorrow’s European Grand Prix, Mallya did not doubt the talent of India’s first F1 driver Narain Karthikeyan or Hispania’s Karun Chandhok but said they did not suit his requirement.
“Let’s be clear, motorsport is not that advanced in India for a variety of reasons to throw up drivers who would ultimately reach Formula One,” said Mallya.
“We have drivers - Narain Karthikeyan, Karun Chandhok, and a couple of others, Armaan (Ebrahim), and there’s a boy called (Aditya) Patel. They are talented drivers. Now I must decide whether they suit my requirements in Force India Formula One or not,” he said.
Mallya said what he wants to identify someone young and groom him for the F1 circuit.
“I’ve got to start looking for somebody really young, and as I have said before, among 1.2 billion people there’s got to be a Lewis Hamilton somewhere. It’s like trying to pick a needle from a haystack, but we are now going to launch a nationwide programme in India to identify young talent and this is a pretty complex exercise.
“It involves several karting tracks all over the country, a whole organised method of getting people to enter, a competitive environment, a competitive programme and then we will probably take those with exceptional talent, bring them to either England or Europe, pay for them, pay for their education, pay for their karting and literally mentor them through until they can sit in a Formula One cockpit, and we are absolutely committed to do that,” he added.