Given that 16-year-old Shahaan Engineer was taking part in a series where the average age of the drivers participating was 22 and most had far more racing experience than the Mumbai-born rookie, taking part in the Toyota Racing Series was going to be an uphill task for Engineer.
So it is
Sixteen-year-old Shahaan Engineer (left) has just 21 motor races under his belt. HT photo
noteworthy that Engineer finished 13th in the points standing out of 21 drivers and just four positions behind Ferrari young driver Rafaelle Marciello, who has entered over double the 21 races that Engineer has taken part in so far.
Rectifying his lack of race experience was the chief concern of Engineer's manager and uncle Yohann Setna when he signed him up for the series that has produced a German Formula 3 champion and a host of GP3 Series winners.
"Shahaan was confident that he had the speed," Setna told HT. "But he needed experience and he got a lot of racing over the 15 races in a variety of race conditions."
Since it was his first year of racing cars (Engineer had only raced karts prior to late 2011), Setna set modest targets for his nephew. "Our goal was to finish in the top 15 and to finish as many races as possible," said Setna. "We got to 13th and scored points in all but one race so I am happy but Shahaan is not as he wants to win."
Engineer's eagerness to win will be put to the test, but not just yet says Setna who has signed him up to drive in the Formula Renault UK series this year. "First year of Renault is a learning year but the second year is about winning races," said Setna. "If you are not winning races by your second year of Formula Renault, then you need to re-evaluate your career as a single seater driver."