The Sahara Force India F1 team used the occasion of the inaugural Indian Grand Prix to announce the winners of its search for driving talent among the billions of inhabitants across the country.
After hosting regional rounds across seven cities, the team's Academy initiative, in association with Mobil1, picked three winners from thousands of applicants after a final evaluation round, held just across the road from the team's Silverstone base. At the end of an intensive hands-on week, an panel comprising deputy team principal Robert Fernley, Eddie Jordan, Anthony Hamilton and Nico Hulkenberg selected three winners - Arjun Maini and Tarun Reddy, both aged 14, and 13-year old Jehan Daruvala - on the basis of a assessment of their capabilities and proficiency in various areas, including driver tuition in karts, fitness assessment at the Porsche Human Performance Centre and media training with Goodman Media. Maini and Reddy qualified from the Bangalore and Chennai rounds respectively, while Daruvala came through the Wild Card Entry round held in Hyderabad.
“We have discovered three extremely talented participants during the Silverstone finals of the 'One From A Billion Hunt'," team boss Vijay Mallya confirmed, "We are delighted with the response the programme has received up to now and we wish the winners all the very best. Through the Sahara Force India F1 Team Academy, we look forward to helping nurture and groom this young talent while providing them with the necessary skills required to be future F1 drivers.”
The ten Silverstone finalists had emerged from national finals held in Goa, and the three winners will all be rewarded with places in the team's Academy system.
“The top three were very close in the race for the championship and I have decided that all three will be sent to Europe for a comprehensive driver development programme," Mallya confirmed, "The decision, to be taken in consultation with their parents, will ensure their education, lodging and training by Sahara Force India.”
Maini, Reddy and Daruvala will each take part in a fully-funded karting programme in Europe, before advancing to appropriate single-seater series and hopefully progressing to GP3, GP2 and F1.