"I believe, my best is yet to come!"
Career path in racing:
Karting-FIA F4-FIA F3/GP3-GP2-F1 is the recognized path to F1 (all these championships except karting are recognized by FIA). All aspirants generally start with Karting. I started with F4-F3 and currently pursuing BOSS GP as it provides the experience and learning I need to move further.
I have struggled at every step. Initially I only had the interest but had no clue how to go about it. I was a chubby kid and had to stop drinking fizz drinks and sweets all of a sudden. Even now I have to work out for a minimum of 3 hours a day, all the year through in order to remain fit. Every race needs focus and it used to be difficult for me to relax, but I am getting better at it now. Planning for the next step - from karting to racing was not easy. I had to test with multiple teams and learn things the hard way. But the struggle has helped - I am more confident now and have better judgment, I think.
During F4, I had no testing experience in any track and every race was a challenge. I had to make do with testing at the simulators but nothing matches the experience at the circuits. Migration to F3 was tough. The experience surely helped me to give my best to the Auto GP-BOSS GP series.
My first win at Amaron Karting and the P1 position in one of the rounds in the JK Tyre Racing Championship last year would be the high so far. It gave me a lot of confidence and hope that I could do my best if I put my mind to it. The experience in the last few months of the F4 championship was also an eye opener. I was below 16 and so had no choice other than F4. I was racing with the best racers in the world and the only Indian. They had all the experience in the European tracks and had been karting extensively. I was a novice in a foreign country who had no clue what people were saying since very few spoke English. I got better with each round. It was fantastic learning! The Auto GP podium at Adria in April 2016 would be the most cherished one. I was not even sure if would race due to health issues, but managed a double podium during the first weekend of the season. That was indeed the start I needed.
Inability of his peers to comprehend what he is doing:
Everybody thinks of racing in terms of adventure, glamour and money alone. Very few understand the intricacies - the working of the man and machine together, the team dynamics, and the value of every single person in the team behind the driver’s performance. Most people who know me think that I am weird because there are so few racers around. The engineers and mechanics of my team understand me better, I think. They are of course much older than me!
The world of racing is amazing. Nothing can compare to it. So I don’t have many hobbies and I have just enough time to study, sleep, work out and race. My friends and cousins keep track of what I do but they surely think I am crazy.
It became difficult to attend regular school since I was travelling extensively during the academic year and had to switch to home schooling. I completed my A levels from the Cambridge University (equivalent to Grade 12) and am currently pursuing my diploma in sports sciences. I do most of my studying by myself and make do with help from my parents. It is not very structured, but one cannot have the best of both worlds.
Moral support from parents:
I come from a non-racing family. That is one of the reasons I was introduced to the sport rather late. My parents have been a big support right from the beginning. They rooted for me all along. They have to also support me financially since sponsorship is virtually absent in India.
How did I come this far:
Speed always fascinated me and so did vehicles. My constant companion during childhood was a car in which I could go around the house. Our family had no idea what racing was. We discovered Karting only when I was 12 years old when Amaron conducted an All India Karting Challenge. I had by then done karting, as a hobby, at the Island Grounds, Chennai and Kart Attack and was addicted to it. Someone suggested that I should participate and I went up to the finals during my debut year. From then on there was no looking back.
I refuse to accept failure. I tell myself to just work hard and focus. The rest will follow.
If there is one single thing that I have learnt in the last few years, it would be, 'Give your best to the task on hand.' I want to do my best every racing weekend. Financial constraints have kept me taking advantage of some offers like test driving Formula One cars. I believe, my best is yet to come!
My impatience is my biggest weakness. I tend to make mistakes by being over-ambitious but they are my mistakes to make and they have been my best teacher!
I was not born to follow and I am not sure if I was born to lead, but what I'm certain of is that I was born to fight my way through life and win. I push myself during every lap to better myself.
Ross Bentley, internationally renowned performance coach and race car driver is my coach and mentor.
Why I am doing this:
This is my passion! And I am glad I found it early on. Racing made me what I am today. I used to be an impulsive kid. May be, even now, I am a bit of that and a nervous one too. I have learnt the meaning of discipline. I keep meeting all kinds of people and racing has made grow up a lot in the last one year.