MOTORSPORT F2 racer Parthiva Sureshwaren is preparing for the upcoming season with a single-minded focus: the F1! MADHUMITHA SRINIVASAN
For racer Parthiva Sureshwaren, life’s always on the fast lane; from the time he sneaked away with his father’s car with some not-so-favourable consequences to seriously taking up motorsport in 1998 to being the only Indian in the F2 championship in the upcoming season. “The moment I stepped into a race car I knew this is what I wanted to do,” he admits. NXg catches up with Parthiva who chats about life as a racer, the upcoming F2 season and possible entry into F1 by the end of the year.
How did you start off?
I loved cars as a kid. I used to go to Sholavaram to watch the races with my dad. who though not a racer was very much interested in the sport. Since I loved driving, my father suggested that I try it on the tracks and when I did I loved it. I joined the Silverstone Racing School in England in 1998. I competed in the Indian National Championship, British F3 National Class, besides others, and then gradually moved to A1 GP and then F2 in 2010.
Sponsorship has always been a problem. How was it for you then and now?
I needed my family’s support when I started and till a certain level. Things were difficult; I could not race for almost a year before A1GP because of lack of sponsors. Now a British company, Lycamobile, is sponsoring me. I am looking out for more sponsors.
Why is it difficult?
It is because only now people in India are realising that it is not just cricket, but even motorsport can generate a lot of revenue for corporates. The Indian Grand Prix had a lot to do with that; it opened everyone’s eyes to what exactly the sport is. In fact, F1 comes second after the Football World Cup in terms of viewership. That’s big! It is getting easier now though. I wish I had started out now in racing. But we did learn the hard way and that has made us tougher as drivers.
How tough is it being the only Indian in the F2 this season?
There is a lot of pressure but I don’t look at it as being the only Indian. It’s pressure from myself; wanting to achieve my goal of reaching F1. Whether I am the only Indian or there are two other Indians, I’ll still want to win, be on the podium and reach F1.
How important is it to be technically sound?
Very important. More than the engine (there are technicians and engineers working on them, we can’t influence that), we need to know about the car set up, its aerodynamic and mechanical set up. In F2, you are already at a level where everybody’s good and then the difference comes in the way the driver sets up the car with the engineers, how he works with his engineers.
Why is physical fitness important?
It is physically draining. In F2 we face 3.5 G through each corner, per lap which is what fighter jet pilots experience. Also, each time I hit the brake, while taking a u-bend and shift from the sixth to the second gear there’s almost 100 kilos of brake force that I need to apply. You have to have really good strength, muscle power and a good cardio fitness. At 300 kmph you can’t afford to make a mistake. Neck training is also equally important. So I spend a lot of hours in the gym; almost five days a week. I do a mix of strength and cardio training, and mental exercises like yoga and meditation to help me stay focused.
Next step would be F1. I am looking to probably test a F1 car by the end of the year and then see how it goes. I am hoping to do well in Formula 2 this year. I am confident about it. I have a good driver coach, (Martin Donnelly, a former F1 driver) and a good engineer too.
How do you manage to shift between driving on the race tracks and on the road?
When I was a kid I drove fast and was reckless. But now I am more mature. On the roads, I try to obey rules as much as possible because it’s not worth risking yourself. You could hurt someone else too. Also, when you are racing often at 300 kmph, it is difficult to get that rush on the road. And maybe I could drive fast in some cities of Europe where there are no speed limits. My advice to youngsters would be to not drive fast on the roads; and if you do, go to a race track.
I have just invested in a restaurant in Chennai with two friends. I am involved with my parent’s business in Dubai but at the moment my full focus is motorsport. In the future, I would like to be involved with motorsport in some way: start a team, open a racing school, etc. I am keeping my options open.
- Favourite track: Monza, Italy. That’s where I have got my best results. It’s also the track where you can reach the highest speed. In terms of its setting, it has to be Brands Hatch in England. It’s on a hill, and the track also goes through the woods.
- Promising Indian racer: Aditya Patel
- Racing idol: Ayrton Senna
- Other sports: I follow tennis and cricket of course. Otherwise, I also watch any sport and all different kinds of motorsport.
- If not a racer: A fighter jet pilot. Or an athlete as I was good at it.
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