Arjun Maini Wants Indian Parents to Allow Kids to Succeed In Motorsport: Take The Risk!
'My message is if you are doing it, do it properly or not at all'
One of India’s brightest racers Arjun Maini believes the mentality in the country needs to change for it to produce more drivers who are able to compete at the highest level of motor racing. In the 67 years of Formula 1 existence, India has only had two racers Narain Karthikeyan and Karun Chandhok.
The dearth of capable racers is clear. While a lot of them struggle to meet up the financial pressures, there are many who give up on racing at an early age thinking they won’t make a decent career out of it, as they will do while in a normal business.
Even though things are changing for good in the recent years, but still there are only handful of drivers who can make it to the top in the near future. One of key reasons for the less number despite having a huge population is parent’s decision making for their kids at an early age.
“I think the problem in India is that the parents aren’t willing to take the risk with their kids,” said Maini in an exclusive interview. “Racing takes a lot of dedication, a lot of hardwork, a lot of commitment and a lot of sacrifice.
“I was lucky, I mean, one has to be willing to put your school second and racing first and I think that’s the problem in India that you take education so seriously that not many parents are willing to do that and a lot of people are coming and doing the races and going back and not doing the testing and this is a problem.
“In my opinion, my message to the people is if you are doing it, you do it properly or don’t do it at all because it makes no sense if you doing it half-hearted.” He added that while a lot of people from outside racing community did approach him to know about racing, from within, it was only Faridabad’s Manav Sharma who came up to him for professional help.
Talking about sponsors, while the Bangalorean was disappointed with the various companies’ decision to not sponsor young Indian racers, but at the same time Maini understood the company’s plight and ideology. Apart from the big-shot companies, the Indian feels the media as well only wants to get behind a driver when he is at his peak, rather than support him from an early age.
“Of course, you get disappointed [when companies turn down your request],” he said. “But you have to look at their side as well. What do they get out of it at the moment? If you are in F1, you get them. They will be with you but….am disappointed in the way that nobody is looking into the future.
“Nobody is willing to nurture the talent, they only want to be there when they are on top, but that’s how the world is - it is a selfish world. Everybody thinks about themselves. In a way, that’s what we do as well, so it is not that we can complain about it but that’s how it is, you just got to do with what you have.
“The goal [for all of us] is to make to F1. I think the junior drivers don’t get the recognition [still]. We have a habit of only getting behind the drivers once they are on top. It is more in the Indian media, apart from few who are more passionate about the sport itself.
“There’s not really much attention to myself, Jehan [Daruvala] and my brother Kush. For me this has to change because the way they look at us will have an effect on whether we get to F1 or not. I think people underestimate the value of that.
“The way they look upon us, write upon us and show interest will effect on the sponsor’s we get and the race seats we get. So, in a way I am little bit disappointed on that side, but again you don’t really understand how it is unless it happens. That’s why I have massive respect for Narain and Karun both for what they did in a time when not many were behind them,” he explained.
In addition, Maini thinks talent is a ‘fake’ word which distracts everyone as he believes drivers can still be developed and nurtured to excel. He shares the example of Austria’s Ferdinand Habsburg from European F3, who made a tremendous improvement during the 2017 season after a slow start to his campaign – which he thinks was because he was given the chance to develop.
For Maini, the support from JK Tyre all through his career and from TVS Racing from 2016 has been a major help financially. The Indian was able to complete his first full year in GP3 Series last year finishing ninth in the standings, claiming a historic win and a podium with Jenzer Motorsport.
He also signed up as the Haas F1 Team’s development driver with the help of his mentor Chandhok – the role which he is set to keep with him this year as well. His racing programme, however, is still a mystery. It is expected though that he will graduate to the FIA Formula 2 Championship after testing in the post-2017 Abu Dhabi test.