India's F1 hope Jehan Daruvala to make single-seater debut in Formula Renault
Young Indian driver Jehan Daruvala will embark on his single-seater racing career with the reputed Fortec Motorsport squad in the Formula Renault 2.0 championship after three successful seasons in karting.
The Vijay Mallya-backed driver on Monday confirmed that he will be doing seven rounds of the Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup (NEC), three rounds of the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 and a couple in the Formula Renault 2.0 ALPS.
The NEC series is expected to get underway in April and that alone costs around 300,000 pounds a season.
The 16-year-old from Mumbai is aware that the required transition from karts to junior single-seaters could pave the way for bigger things, including his 'dream' F1 drive with Force India.
"This could be the beginning of something big but I am just thinking about my performance like I did in karting. Anyway, I think I will have to do a bigger series after this (Formula Renault 2.0) to have a shot at Formula 1. I can't think of anyone else other than Kimi Raikkonen, who has made it to F1 straight after 2.0," Daruvala told PTI from Mumbai.
He secured the Fortec seat after 16 days of testing across Nurburgring, Spa, Barcelona and Jerez.
"Next I will head back to the UK for some simulator time and by the first race of the season, I would have done another 12 days of testing," said Daruvala.
He claimed that he was only two-tenths of a second slower than reigning NEC champion Ben Barnicoat during testing, giving him confidence ahead of his debut.
How was it like driving a Formula car after karts?
"The biggest change I found is that you feel stuck in the car and because of that your vision is blocked. It is also very physical on the neck so I have to work out more and on the key areas. I am sure by the time season starts, I will fully get used to the car," added Daruvala.
Mallya, who has backed Daruvala ever since he became part of the Force India Academy, has already said the teenager has a good chance of being the next Indian in F1, provided he does well in the junior formula.
Narain Karthikeyan and Karun Chandhok are only ones from the country to have raced in the pinnacle of motorsport.