racing: Haas F1 team signs Indian teen as development driver
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[May 11, 2017]
By Alan Baldwin
BARCELONA (Reuters) - Indian teenager
Arjun Maini has joined the U.S.-owned Haas Formula One team as a
development driver alongside 18-year-old American Santino Ferrucci.
Born and brought up in Bangalore, the 19-year-old won the Force
India team's 'One in a Billion' Indian driver talent competition in
2011, which led to a season of karting in Europe. He is currently
competing in the GP3 support series.
"All of my racing to date has been with the focus of becoming a
Formula One driver, and this opportunity puts me one step closer to
my goal," he said at the Spanish Grand Prix on Thursday.
"I am eager to learn, understand and experience how a Formula One
team operates. Everything I learn can be used immediately in GP3
while preparing for my ultimate goal of Formula One."
Narain Karthikeyan and Karun Chandhok are the only Indians to have
raced in Formula One, with the former scoring points when he
finished fourth for Jordan in the six-car U.S. Grand Prix of 2005.
"Karun has been a great help because he has been sort of guiding me
all throughout my career," Maini, whose brother Kush races in
Formula Four, told Reuters.
India hosted a grand prix at the Buddh International Circuit near
New Delhi between 2011 and 2013 but hopes of a return to the
calendar have dimmed.
Maini also faces an uphill battle to progress to a full race seat,
regardless of results, in a sport with only 20 drivers on the grid
and some depending on sponsorship to be there.
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The teenager said that his Haas deal did not require
him to bring a financial contribution but hoped it would put him
more on the radar for Indian backers.
"It was important for me to get this role in because
it opens me up to many of the Indian Formula One fans who wouldn't
have known me before," he said. "And this will help me financially
with the sponsorships."
Haas, who are Ferrari powered and work closely with the Italian
team, made their Formula One debut last season and finished eighth
The team said the development drivers would be "embedded", attending
races and tests while also taking part in their simulator program.
"As Haas F1 Team continues to mature, we must look toward our future
and develop potential talent," said team principal Guenther Steiner.
"Arjun was successful in karting and has transitioned well to
various Formula series and now GP3. We’ll keep a keen eye on his
progress this year."
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)
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