Currently, though, he is happy doing endurance racing
BRS Racing Bangalore’s Arjun Maini starred in the opening round of the X1 racing league winning the first two races at the Buddh International Circuit recently.
The 21-year-old from Bengaluru was touted as India’s next big F1 hopeful having signed up as a development driver for Haas back in 2017. However, in the last two years the dream has fizzled out after reaching F2 last year.
Maini’s is a case of what could have been as two of his counterparts from junior formulae — George Russell and Charles Leclerc — are making a mark in Formula One.
Leclerc, who impressed everyone beating Sebastian Vettel in Ferrari this year, was Maini’s teammate in FIA European Formula 3 championship at Van Amersfoort Racing, while Russell, who drives for Williams F1, defeated Maini by just three points in the BRDC F4 championship in 2014.
Since then their paths have diverged and when asked if he is disappointed with the way things have panned out, Maini said, “Yes I am because the first season of GP3 (2016) showed so much promise without testing finishing 10th in the standings after missing the first few rounds, but that’s how it goes.”
Praise for Leclerc
So did he expect Leclerc to do as well? “Yeah. I did. I think everyone expected. He has a good feel for the car and his natural talent is a strength,” said Maini.
“I think his biggest strength is his will power to win a race and the self-belief he has that could pull the car back from any situation. During our time in F3, he would go hard from the beginning while I tried to slowly build-up to the weekend and by the time I got up to speed it was already too late.”
In 2019, Maini moved out of single-seater racing to take part in endurance racing competing in the European Le Mans Series and is likely to continue down the same path next year as well.
A different path
Here in Chennai for the second leg of the X1 racing weekend, Maini concedes the F1 dream has not worked out but is now trying to get there through a different path. “I still have the dream to race in F1 but I am going to chase it in a different way. I think personally I took another step racing in endurance and working as a team,” says Maini.
And he sees a potential path after New Zealand driver Brendon Hartley made to F1 part-time through 2017 and a full season in 2018 for Toro Rosso after being part of the Endurance racing for a while. “I am happy to be doing what I am doing now and I am just 21. Hartley made it to F1 when he was 28 so there is still hope.”
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