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HomeAutoKush Maini completes first Alpine Formula 1 test: Interview -DellyRanks

Kush Maini completes first Alpine Formula 1 test: Interview -DellyRanks

Taking another step towards F1, Maini completed over 110 laps behind the wheel of the 2022-spec Alpine F1 car.

Indian racer Kush Maini recently completed his first full F1 test session with Alpine at the Red Bull Ring. Driving the 2022-spec A522, he clocked over 110 laps (more than 500km) at the Austrian GP venue.

Speaking to the media soon after, Maini called the test a “massive booster” for his racing career, adding that “Alpine now know that I am capable of driving an F1 car quick.”

  1. Maini says his immediate focus is F2
  2. Three more F1 test days lined up this year

First taste of F1

Interestingly, this wasn’t Maini’s first time behind the wheel of an F1 car. Soon after joining Alpine’s young driver programme last year, he had the chance to drive the 2021-spec A521 at the Bahrain International Circuit. However, that outing was cut short due to technical issues and Maini could only complete one outlap.

But the latest test (conducted as part of Alpine’s Testing of Previous Cars programme to evaluate young talent for the future) went by far more smoothly. “I got up to speed a lot quicker than I thought I would,” said Maini. “[In] my first session, we were already sort of pushing the limits and by the second, we were bang on the pace, which I was quite happy with. This experience has just shown me how much I want to be in F1.”

This was also Maini’s first taste of the modern era ground effect car. “It’s leaps and bounds ahead of the F2 car in terms of all the procedures and stuff,” he explained. “It’s just an unreal experience, I’m so lucky to have been able to do it.”

He added, “The F1 car is a fine piece of engineering. It gives the driver so much confidence to actually get up to speed really quick. So, in many ways, it’s actually a lot easier to drive than the F2 car. You saw Ollie Bearman jumping in and performing at a high level straight away and I think that’s possible for all the top drivers in F2.”

Alpine reserve role a possibility?

Esteban Ocon will be leaving Alpine at the end of the 2024 season and current reserve driver Jack Doohan is expected to replace him. This means there will likely be a reserve F1 seat up for grabs next year. But Maini is aware that a successful test is just one part of the puzzle; he also needs to deliver results in F2.

“You’re never going to train enough to get into an F1 car, the best training is to drive it. Having that successful test and Alpine being really happy with the way I was working, my feedback and professionalism, brings me a slight step closer. If I’m in the front in F2, I am a serious contender for the [F1 reserve] seat,” he said.

“It’s tough because you go in and you’re like ‘I want to be the fastest, but I can’t crash and I can’t make mistakes’. So it’s a very fine line, but once I was in the car, the car gave me so much confidence. The engineering team was amazing, they got me up to speed so quick. Once I got going, there was no fear, no stress.”

Maini’s 2024 F2 season so far

Maini reveals that he has three more days of F1 testing lined up this year, but highlights that his immediate focus is on F2. He’s currently ninth in the standings, with one pole and two podium finishes to his name so far. However, he struggled at the last two rounds at Imola and Monaco, and was only able to score a single point.

“I think we’ve been one of the quickest cars on track. Unfortunately, the last two weekends have been very tough for reasons I can’t really say in the media. But the team and I are doing everything we can,” Maini reflected.

He reveals that Invicta has identified the problem that plagued him in the last two rounds and he’s confident that the results will follow. “We know exactly what it’s going to take to get back on track and find that earlier form. And once we do find that, the championship is the goal.”

Putting India on the motorsport map

Maini’s goal is clear – he wants to be the third Indian to race in F1 (after Narain Karthikeyan and Karun Chandhok). And he’s hoping that by breaking into F1 himself, he can also help boost the racing culture in India.

“A dream of mine has always been to put India properly on the motorsport map. I think there are a lot of kids who want to do this sport, but have no idea how to do it,” he said. “Step one is to make it myself. I think me reaching F1 and achieving that dream can open doors and help me improve this culture in our country. And that is definitely a big goal of mine, but you’ve got to make it first and then you can change things.”

Also see:

Kush Maini on F2 title battle: My confidence is high

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