Edinburgh: Akhil Rabindra, a 17-year-old from India, won a place on the FIA Institute Young Drivers Excellence Academy programme following an intensive three-day test and evaluation at the FIA Institute Asia-Pacific selection event hosted by the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport (CAMS) here.
The academy has brought together 10 of the most promising drivers from around the world with participants from Saudi Arabia, Lithuania, Denmark and several other countries.
The intensive training sessions hosted by the University of Edinburgh included a series of gruelling workshops to help the drivers succeed in this highly-competitive sport.
Demanding physical exercises included an early morning run around a celebrated city landmark -- Arthur’s Seat -- in sub-zero temperatures, followed by a work-out in the University’s heat chamber where temperatures exceeded 40 degrees.
Akhil said, “My time training here at the University of Edinburgh has been incredibly demanding, but incredibly useful as well. I have learned that to become a top driver in modern motor sport, you have to be both physically and mentally prepared and this course has helped me focus on achieving these aims.”
Akhil, who races in the JK Racing India Series Formula BMW, was a top 25 finalist in the Force India F1 team’s One From a Billion competition in 2011 when he was just 15.
He spent 2012 competing in the JK Racing India Series, previously known as Formula BMW Asia. In 2013, he competed in the Toyota Etios Motor Racing Trophy, narrowly missing out on the title, but his performance won him the chance to compete in the Toyota Vios Cup in Thailand in January 2014.
The workshop was led by physiologist Tony Turner and psychologist Hugh Richards from the University of Edinburgh’s Institute of Sport PE and Health Sciences at Moray House School of Education. Postgraduate students assisted in the monitoring of the drivers.
Turner said the idea was to expose drivers to the science of racing and prepare them for competition at the highest level, while maintaining consistent, safe performances.
“The drivers are pushed hard both physically and mentally. It is an intensity of training that matches that of high performance motor sport environment.
“There has been a lot of ‘hands-on’ work, with the drivers learning about the exacting demands of motor sport and we will develop individual take-home strategies for them to start implementing straight away,” said Dr Turner.
The FIA’s programme, in tandem with the University of Edinburgh, has identified young drivers who have gone on to achieve great success in various types of motor sport. These include Alexander Rossi, current F1 Test Driver for Caterham and Andreas Mikkelsen, who drives for Volkswagen in the World Rally Championship.