Former Formula One World champion Jackie Stewart says India now must focus on producing a bunch of world-class drivers after the resounding success of the inaugural Indian Grand Prix. The "Flying Scotsman" also feels that it is time F1 had a female driver on the grid.
World champion in 1969, 1971, 1973, Stewart says India should be proud of what it had achieved and the Grand Prix success should be followed by creating a pool of Indian drivers who could take on the likes of current World champion Sebastian Vettel.
“What India has made (the Buddh International Circuit) is remarkable. I drove around the circuit and it is one of the best in the world. But that is not enough for the progress of Indian motorsports. You guys gotta create a bunch of racing drivers at the highest level," said an animated Stewart.
“We need to get more and more Indians racing in Formula cars. The infrastructure needs to be put in place. I see there are not many race tracks in India,” said the 73-year-old, who inaugurated the Sriperumbudur track in Tamil Nadu way back in 1985.
Stewart thinks highly of Indian F1 drivers Karun Chandhok and Narain Karthikeyan, but says the country needs a fresh face.
“Look they are good but they have been around long enough. Karthikeyan used to drive for my team in Formula 3 and he was bloody quick. But it is time to move on. We need 5-6 Indian drivers at the world level. You can’t expect two drivers to be successful in Formula One. If India has four drivers, the UK has 10 and Germany 15, then obviously you are not going to go anywhere.”
He bluntly put it that being a champion in India will not put him on the world map, for exposure in Europe is a must. “Things can’t change overnight, but you can start by sending more drivers in Formula series in Europe.”
Success in motorsports is often being linked to the money the driver brings into the team, but Stewart believes there is no substitute for talent. “If you are a good driver, the teams will take you. Money doesn't stop the talented making it big.”