Formula 1: Are there any Indian drivers in F1 2023?
Narain Karthikeyan and Karun Chandhok remain the only two Formula One drivers from India.
Formula 1 is the most viewed Motorsport event in the entire world, and it has its fair share of fans from around the world. With most people often particularly supporting a specific racing team, some also choose to root for the driver belonging to their very country. For example, Max Verstappen has a huge Dutch fanbase, that is often referred to as the orange army.
But unfortunately, the F1 fans in India are very unfortunate in this aspect of showing loyalty and faith towards one that belongs to their own nation, as there is not a single Indian driver in F1 this season, or any season for the past decade.
Formula 1 in the past has had a decent connection with India, and there used to be an Indian car company, and also Indian drivers. But in recent years, with Sahara Force India’s exit, and the permanent seclusion of the Indian GP from the F1 calendar, the link of F1 with the subcontinent has radically minimised.
But in this glaring period of mishaps, something interesting has also happened. There has been an increase in the number of viewers of F1 in India. Especially because of the F1 series Drive to survive, which is a documentary series showcasing the inside work going on within F1. The series also somewhat “humanised” the sport that earlier ran the risk of being viewed as too mechanical.
This show and the incredible stories F1 has had over the past few years, have all together led to an increase in the number of people settling in front of their TV, to witness the race unfold. In fact, in the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, when Verstappen clinched the title in the last race under dramatic circumstances, an audience of 108.7m watched the race in India, which was 29% higher than the same race in 2020.
All of this is a clear indication of the sport’s rise in popularity in India. But this rise in popularity comes in handy with the strong desire of seeing one’s own on the F1 track, bustling past cars and making the entire nation proud. All Indian F1 fans are wishing for just one thing, and that is to see an Indian driver in Formula 1.
Indian drivers in Formula 2 (F2)
Although there is no Indian driver in F1 at the moment, fans across the nation are rooting for two racers, Jehan Daruwala and Kush Maini, to end the long wait of once again seeing an Indian driver in Formula 1.
Jehan and Kush are the two Indian drivers competing in Formula Two, which is a feeder series for F1 and runs on the same race tracks as F1, often on the same race weekends as well. These two drivers have recently brought much pride to the nation, and with their efforts, they might very well get the chance of joining an F1 team in the near future.
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Who is Jehan Daruwala?
Born on the 1st of October 1998 in Mumbai, Jehan Daruvala, from a very tender age grew a keen interest in Karting, and enjoyed much success from behind the steering wheel. As the years went by, Jehan’s passion for motorsport grew bigger and bigger. He competed on various racing levels to slowly make a steady rise in the world of competitive car racing.
He went through various motorsport competitions like Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0, Toyota Racing Series, European Formula 3 Championship, GP3 Series, before finally joining FIA racing, as he became a part of the Formula 3 championship in 2019, for Prema Powerteam. In 2020, Daruwala made further progress by joining Carlin, and competing in F2, which is the second tier of FIA racing.
He spent the next three seasons in F2, and despite much speculation that the racer might find a place in F1, Jehan Daruvala, unfortunately, remained in F2. He has switched to reigning champions’ MP Motorsport for his fourth season in the Championship.
Jehan also tried his hands on an F1 livery in 2022, in a successful test drive. Also, his completion of 130 laps with the car now makes him a super license holder, taking him one step closer to that F1 dream.
Who is Kush Maini?
Kush Maini is the newest inclusion in the F2 roster. He accompanies Jehan Daruwala as the second Indian driver to feature in the 2023 Formula 2 season. Kush is a part of Campos Racing, and has made his way in Formula 2 after graduating from Formula 3.
The racer has previously competed in Formula 4, the Formula Renault Eurocup, the FIA World Endurance Championship, the BRDC British Formula 3 Championship, and most recently FIA Formula 3.
Kush made a very impressive start to his much-awaited F2 journey, as he finished fourth in the inaugural race of the F3 season. He is currently ninth in the overall driver standings.
What the future holds for these two Indian drivers?
Jehan has tons of racing experience in Formula 2 racing, and with his inclusion in MP Motorsport this season, it is becoming increasingly likely that we might see the Indian shine at the F2 stage and earn his place in F1 next season.
Whereas for Kush, it is his first season in the second tier of FIA racing, and he might need some more time behind the steering, to finally be ready for competing in the world’s biggest motorsport event.
But whatever the future holds in store for these two, one thing’s for sure, India has got two gems in their hands. These two drivers will surely make the nation proud, and pave the path for the next generation of Racers in India.
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