Following the exit of Narain Karthikeyan and Karun Chandhok from the Formula One scene, no other Indian driver seems close to making it to the showpiece motorsport event. The Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India (FMSCI) acknowledges the fact, and wants all driver development programmes in the country to nurture talent.

FMSCI president Vicky Chandhok said it would take some time before one gets to see an Indian in the elite event again.

“It will be six to eight years before we see another Indian in Formula One. All (the domestic talent hunt) programmes should help harness the skills and promote young Indian drivers,” Chandhok told The Hindu on the sidelines of Mercedes-Benz’s ‘Young Star Driver’ programme here on Monday.

Chandhok said international companies hosting motorsport events in India would benefit aspiring drivers. “If foreign companies start coming here instead of our boys going out, then more Indian drivers will get the opportunity at lesser cost,” he said. Chandhok said he was concerned about the Indian GP being scrapped from next year’s F1 calendar, and the cancellation of the Superbike race for the time being due to various ‘operational challenges,’ including bureaucratic hurdles.

“It is equally important for F1 to try and ensure that the race happens here. It is a very expensive sport. Normally, it is the local Governments which use F1 to promote tourism in their countries. The Government (of India) needs to leverage F1 and gain from it,” he said.

After several rounds of screening, six drivers from about 3200 made it to the final round THE Young Star Driver programme, and Niranjan Todkari of Aurangabad emerged the champion. Diljith (Thrissur) and Mezaan Anees (Bangalore) claimed the second and third spots in the race. “We are overwhelmed with the response. The programme was so well-received,” said Mercedes-Benz India Managing Director and CEO Eberhard Kern.

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