• Indian Grand Prix

India needs to invest in karting tracks - Jackie Stewart

ESPNF1 Staff
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After Karun Chandhok 'there is not much of depth in the talent pool' © Getty Images
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India needs to invest in karting tracks if Formula One is to continue to grow, according to former world champion Sir Jackie Stewart.

Following the success of the inaugural Indian Grand Prix, attentions are turning to how the country can build on the increased interest in Formula One. With only Naran Karthikeyan racing on Sunday, and that drive coming courtesy of heavy backing, Stewart says that in order to produce more F1 drivers India needs to work on the grassroots of motorsport.

"Look at the current Indian drivers," Stewart said. "Narain [Karthikeyan] is old now and after him and the other lad Karun [Chandhok] there is not much of depth in the talent pool. No one is knocking at the doors of F1. For a country to produce more quality drivers it should have a huge talent base from which the best come out to fight abroad.

"For that to happen, India should have more karting tracks, not big F1 circuits, so that more kids come into racing and then you will see an increase in the number of quality drivers coming out of here."

That view was echoed by Mercedes boss Norbert Haug. "The motorsports federation should now be concentrating on developing the go-karting sector. I believe promising drivers can be sent to Europe to polish their skills."

FIA president Jean Todt, who had to tread a more diplomatic path, told local officials: "Both the Indian drivers are very talented. You have to realise that there are only 24 of the best drivers here. While there are no Chinese drivers, you should be proud that there are two Indians on the grid."

However, Chandhok said that he believed the success of the grand prix would lead to more interest. "The corporates will now know that India can also become a hub for F1, which in turn will bring in more money. I'm sure the time is not far when Indian drivers will be moving farther up the grid."