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Force India launches the hunt for one in a billion

Race team launches academy to find young talent

Posted Apr 28, 2011 by Shaun Edwards

Force India

India’s only formula 1 team Force India, earlier this month launched an initiative to find the next racing star.

The Force India F1 Team Academy is going to be an entirely separate, not-for-profit initiative that will have three clear goals:

  • Identifying and nurturing talent
  • Vocational training
  • Academic programmes

Described by team principal, Dr. Vijay Mallya as “Nurturing aspiring drivers who show real promise, giving them the necessary funding, support and a career path in motorsport”.

Initially the academy will be focusing on search and discovery of racing talent with the other two initiatives rolled out over a period of 12 months.

The academy is completely funded by Force India F1 team as well as being supported by the racing team’s corporate partners.

The grassroots initiative commences with the academy hunting for one in a billion which involves regional trials being conducted in 7 cities across India where hundreds or even thousands of hopefuls can practise karting and get involved at the selection stages. 14 lucky individuals will be selected from each city and be taking through to the next stage in the competition.

A national final will then take place in September of this year, involving 100 finalists (the 14 individuals from each city and then two wild cards). 10 finalists will then move on to the next level of the programme.

The academy has said that they will conduct a driver hunt every two years.

The ten finalists from the national heat will then be taken to a week-long intensive training course at the legendary race track in Silverstone, UK. This will involve sessions on driver tuition, a day at the Porsche Human Performance Centre and even supplementary training like media relations with Goodman Media.

At the end of the week, just three of the ten will be chosen based on a holistic assessment by a panel of experts around October 2011 and these individuals will move on to the next stage of the programme.

The three winners will then return to the UK in 2012 to do a full season of racing in a competitive championship before the eventual winner will return to India to race a full season in a league there before a three year career plan is drawn up.

Until last season Narain Karthikeyan was the only Indian born Formula 1 racing driver before Karun Chandhok signed for Hispania Racing in 2010. I personally feel it would be nice to see more countries and more individuals from those countries represented on the grid.

The Force India academy is similar to the one launched by Ferrari with their Ferrari Driver Academy, described by them as a forge for the talent of the future.

There seems to be a growing trend towards encouraging youth in a sport. The optimist in me feels that teams, and to a certain extent individuals to whom life has been good to are now looking for ways to give back to society and nurture young talent. The cynic in me thinks that perhaps the teams realise what a valuable asset a young driver can be (see Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton) and they are simply looking to recruit from a fresh pool of talent. I’ll leave it up to you to decide which it is.

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