Formula 1 could get its first Indian driver since 2012 next year

It has been 12 years since an Indian driver was on the Formula 1 grid, and Kush Maini from the Alpine Academy could get his chance soon.
Gabriel Bortoleto, Kush Maini, Formula 2
Gabriel Bortoleto, Kush Maini, Formula 2 / Qian Jun/MB Media/GettyImages

There have only ever been two drivers of Indian origin on the Formula 1 grid: Karun Chandhok and Narain Karthikeyan. The two drivers made a combined 57 race starts across both of their short-lived careers, with Chandhok departing in 2011 and Karthikeyan in 2012.

Kush Maini has been performing quite well in Formula 2 and is a new member of the Alpine Academy, having signed with them in October.

The 23-year-old Indian finds himself sitting in eighth place in the standings and could be pushing hard for a P3 finish by the time the season comes to a close.

What are the odds Kush Maini enters Formula 1?

It will not be easy for Maini to end up in Formula 1, especially given the other talent Alpine currently have within their academy. With the likes of Jack Doohan and Victor Martins also waiting for their chance to break through, Maini may have to really prove himself in any opportunity he is given behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car.

Considering the overhaul Alpine have been undergoing for quite some time now, the trend has been alive within their driver lineup as well, with a number of changes having been made since their re-entrance into Formula 1 back in 2016. 

With Alpine having endured a big drop-off in performance from a couple of seasons ago, they may lose both of their current drivers after 2024, as Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon are both in contract years.

Their departures could send the team into period of rebuilding, and upper management may decide to go with younger drivers. In that case, Doohan will likely be one of them while a discussion will be had about who could be his teammate.

If Alpine were to look in-house, it would be between Martins and Maini. So far this season, the Indian driver has been outperforming his fellow academy compatriot by a considerable margin. Martins currently sits in 19th place in the Formula 2 standings, 25 points behind Maini.

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If Maini can maintain his form over the course of the 2024 season, a Formula 1 promotion could be considered. What Alpine decide to do with their lineup heading into 2025 will be something to keep an eye on. There is a real possibility that Formula 1 will sees its third-ever driver of Indian origin next season.