CHENNAI: Young Chennai racer Mahaveer Ragunathan says he has got test drive offers from Formula One teams but the funds crunch is not helping his cause.
Mahaveer made a mark in the in the 2016 season, with nine podium finishes in Auto GP and two in Boss GP. He finished second in the Auto GP drivers' championship.
"I am comfortable with the powerful cars used in Auto GP. I would love to be part of the GP2, which is seen as the stepping stone for F1, but budgets are a problem. I have received offer for testing from Formula One teams but then again money is an issue. I will do the Auto GP this year and see how things go," Mahaveer told PTI.
He will begin the 2017 season with the Auto GP series, starting with a couple of races in the famous Hockenheim circuit on April 3, with the Italian team PS Racing.
"I not only finished second (in AutoGP), I also learnt a lot and improved 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."
Mahaveer is a first-generation racer and has made it so far without sponsorship.
"I was hyperactive as a child and loved speed. I was introduced to karting at the age of 12, and was able to channelise the energy. Racing has shaped me as a person, given me focus and discipline to pursue what I enjoy doing the best," he said.
In an age when children are usually drawn to sports like cricket or tennis, he got attracted to F1 after watching races on television. He took the plunge with karting and that changed things for the home-schooled lad.
"When I started I was not fit and was overweight. After taking part in the Amaron Karting championship, I realised that fitness is important in motorsport."
After participating in the now defunct Amaron Karting Championship, Mahaveer moved up to the JK Tyre Karting Championship in India.
"I first tasted victory in the Amaron Karting circuit and the next big high was when I secured P1 position in one of the rounds of the JK Tyre Racing Championship. That gave me a lot of confidence and hope that I could do my best if I put my mind to it," he said.
Taking part in the F4 Championship in in 2014 was an eye-opener, he pointed out.
"I was racing with the best young racers in the world and was the only Indian. They had all the experience on the European tracks and I had been karting extensively. I was a novice in a foreign country, who had no clue as to what people were saying since very few spoke English. Despite all this, I ended up 12th for the F & M team," he said.
"In 2015, I raced in the European Formula Three Championship, which is run at all the F1 circuits in Europe. In 2016, I raced in the Auto GP Championship."
Mahaveer is also keen to shatter the myth that racing is only for the rich and hopes to find sponsors to realise his dream of being in F1. Only two Indians - Narain Karthikeyan and Karun Chandhok - have made it to the pinnacle of the motorsport.