At just 18, this youngster is turning eyeballs with his whirlwind performances in the race track. In fact, last year, Mahaveer Raghunathan made a mark in the racing arena, as he had nine podiums in Auto GP and two in Boss GP. He even finished second in the 2016 Auto GP drivers’ championship.
Being a first-generation racer, and having made it this far without any sponsorship, the youngster is now striving hard to compete in the biggest platform. In a chat with DC, the Chennai boy speaks about his journey.
“I was hyperactive and impulsive as a kid and was interested in physical activities. Speed and cars, in particular, have been a fascination to me since childhood. I was introduced to karting at a local track when I was 12, and I was able to channelise my energy — I guess I found my calling then. Racing has shaped me as a person, given me focus and discipline to pursue what I enjoy doing the best,” starts Mahaveer on an exciting note.
Speaking about what made him choose racing as a career, in spite of the allure that other sports like cricket, offer, he says, “Watching Formula One on TV had a big impact — that could’ve made me take this sport seriously. I was playing cricket too, at that time. I enjoyed racing and it had its own challenges, since I had no formal introduction to it. The desire to win pushed me to choose this.”
Sharing with us about his early career, the racer says, “When I started karting, I was not fit and slightly overweight. But after taking part in the Amaron Karting championship, I realised that fitness is very important in motorsport. From 2013 onwards, I developed a fitness regimen for myself — training twice a day. Unlike other sports, we have to understand the machine and adapt to every track.”
One factor, which he feels enabled him to be flexible, was his decision to pursue home school — “I was in a regular school till Class 8. Having had to travel for races made attending school difficult. Self-learning through the Cambridge IGCSE and A Level courses was a good choice, retrospectively. It gave me the flexibility I really needed and studying for exams was easy.”
As the conversation moves towards his professional career, he says, “I took part in the Amaron Karting Championship and then graduated to the JK Tyre Karting Championship in India. Further, to practice on more circuits, I raced in the Asia Max Karting Championship in Malaysia. After karting, I started my racing in a single-seater Formula car with JK Tyre Formula Racing and MFR 1600 cars in India. I also tested Formula Three cars in Europe and later started the FIA F4 Italy Racing Championship in the year 2014. In 2015, I raced in the European Formula Three Championship, which is run in all the F1 circuits in Europe. In 2016, I raced in the Auto GP Championship.”
When we prod him on what he thinks is his biggest achievement, he replies, “According to me, my best season so far has been the Auto GP Championship in 2016 (in which he finished second), since the car is really challenging to drive. I also learnt a lot and improved myself — both as a driver and a person. On the other hand, every race, where you’re not on the podium, you always have the scope for improvement.”
He also wishes to break certain myths with regards to racing. “Most think that racing is for the rich and famous — it’s not true. It is a grueling profession. I have been lucky to be supported by the team I race with and now I am looking for sponsors to drive in other categories like GP2 and F1,” he muses.
On a concluding note, Mahaveer, who idolises Michael Schumacher, reveals his immediate and future ambitions. “Although I have been training myself both mentally and physically, for future challenges, I think I have to learn more on the engineering side of the car — hence I am studying under my American coach. And racing in a Formula One car is my ultimate aim, once I’m totally ready to do so by mastering the techniques of racing,” he says and signs off.