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Grand hunt for an Indian F1 driver

Bengaluru: "Among 1.2 billion people we are going to find that Lewis Hamilton." With these words Dr. Vijay Mallya announced the launch of Force India Formula One Team Academy's '1 From a Billion Hunt' project to unearth motorsporting talent in the country. In partnership with ExxonMobil, Force India will launch a nation-wide search for India's next Formula One driver later this month.

The unique initiative is aimed at identifying the talent - providing vocational and academic training for young Indians aspiring for a serious, professional career in the field of motor sport arena or related industries.

Boys and girls between 14-17 years will be eligible to apply for the same. And yes, you don't need a driving license.

"The academy was conceived with a vision to inspire young Indians who have talent but so far have had no proper opportunity or serious platform to showcase their innate abilities. If the Academy is able to place even one Indian on the Formula One grid then all the effort would have been well worth it when our national anthem is played out for a victorious graduate of Academy," said Dr. Vijay Mallya, chairman and team principal, Force India.

The hunt comprises of a three-stage programme:

- Hunt for 1 from a Billion: In the first stage of the hunt, the Academy will conduct regional trials in seven cities across India via a karting programme. Selected 14 finalists from each city will progress to the next level 'National Final'. The 98 finalists then will be joined by two wild card entries - who will compete against each other for a place in the top-ten.

- Silverstone Finale: The ten finalists then will go for a week-long stint at Silverstone circuit in UK. The ten selected drivers will complete their experience with a race in Formula Silverstone cars. At the end of the intensive hands-on week, an expert panel will pick three finalists on the basis of a holistic assessment of their multiple capabilities and proficiency in requisite areas. The winners will be announced at the Indian Grand Prix on October 28.

- Future Champions Programme: The winners of the Silverstone Finale will then be groomed next year and beyond. The ultimate winner will be put through a full season of racing in a competitive UK championship. The first runner-up will go on to race in a full season of racing in a competitive Indian championship while the second runner-up will benefit from a programme of karting tuition in Asia.

Force India's reserve driver Nico Hulkenberg, who was present at the occasion, said "it's a great opportunity for Indian youngsters. I wish I had the same kind of support when I started."

So, if you have ever dreamed of becoming a racer and drive those fast Formula One cars, this is your chance!

You can register online at or visit the local go-karting track in your city. The action starts on April 25, 2011.

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