FORMULA ONE can only benefit from creating a more diverse paddock – after all, it’s good business sense.
In the final race of last season, Indian F2 ace Jehan Daruvala became the first driver from the huge Asian nation to win a race in the series since its revamp in 2017.
Jehan Daruvala wants to put the Indian flag on the Formula One gridCredit: Getty Images – Getty
Lewis Hamilton has led a renewed push for more diversity in Formula OneCredit: Getty Images – Getty
And while Lewis Hamilton is pioneering a fresh approach to inclusivity in motorsport, Daruvala is also hoping to inspire a new generation of talent.
He told SunSport: “I think everyone does respect what Lewis has to say and to be honest, he is right.
“You don’t see too many different people in motorsport and it would be good to have a lot of people from different cultures and countries.
“I don’t feel like I’m out of place at the track but it would be good to have more, say, Asians, Indians, competing in F1 and also working in F1.”
The 22-year-old, who will race for Carlin in his second year in F2, believes India has the ‘potential’ to become F1’s biggest market and wants to ‘inspire’ his country’s next generation.
The sport’s bosses are forever looking to expand its reach beyond a typically UK and Europe-heavy fanbase, with the United States long targeted as a key audience.
But Daruvala noted: “Formula One is quite big in India but it has a lot of potential.
“I think with the amount of people we have, if there is an Indian driver in F1 and doing well then India probably will be by far the biggest market in terms of viewership and everything.”
Targeting a push at the F2 title in 2021, the Red Bull academy driver finished 15th last year and wants to make his case for a seat among the big boys.
Fernando Alonso is one icon Daruvala would love to drive against and he highlights the two-time champion as his idol.
He added: “Fernando Alonso has been my idol since I was young.
“His passion for going racing and driving any car really close to the limit at any given time, since 2005-06 when he was world champion I have basically supported him.”
One youngster stepping up from F2 this year is Yuki Tsunoda, who drove with Daruvala last season before a promotion to AlphaTauri.
The Japanese starlet’s old team-mate said: “He’s pretty good, he is quite inexperienced still but I think he will do pretty well once he gets set in the car.
Fernando Alonso, currently recovering in hospital from a fractured jaw, is Daruvala’s idolCredit: AP:Associated Press
Old Carlin team-mate Yuki Tsunoda will make the step up into F1 this yearCredit: Alamy Live News
“I think he should be pretty close to [Pierre] Gasly and give him a run for his money.
“He’s very nice, very funny, he doesn’t say too much but he’s got a good sense of humour and always wants to improve the car and the team.”
The constant rise of talent in F1 and its penchant for selecting heavily financially-backed drivers may make the path to the top one of the most crowded in world sport.
Aston Martin’s decision to go with Lance Stroll and Sebastian Vettel in the coming season left Sergio Perez heading towards the exit door before Red Bull swooped in.
And the F1 team’s academy driver, who broke into motorsport on an Indian TV talent contest, feels the driver merry-go-round can play into his favour if he can put together a strong run in the year ahead.
He added: “One year you can be a hero and the next year pretty much out of F1.
My goal is to win the championship next year but if I finish in the top three I will be pretty pleased.
“So if you don’t perform as you are expected to then things can go wrong very quickly.
“My goal is to win the championship next year but if I finish in the top three I will be pretty pleased.
“I think I finished the season in the best way, by winning. So my goal will be to be quick and fast and see where we are in the championship towards the end of the year.”