Written by Vyas Ponnuri
Mahindra Racing have announced the signing of young Indian racer Kush Maini as reserve driver, ahead of the tenth season of Formula E
The times are on the up and up for young Kush Maini, and the latest in a flurry of developments for the Indian racer involves an announcement as reserve driver for the Indian manufacturer Mahindra Racing.
Maini will follow in the footsteps of fellow F2 racer Jehan Daruvala, who also served as reserve driver for the Banbury-based team during season nine, taking part in the rookie tests at Berlin and Rome during the inaugural season of the Gen3 era.
Daruvala's good work as reserve driver caught the eye of former Maserati team principal James Rossiter, who eventually penned a deal with the 25 year-old Indian racer, completing the Maserati line-up for season ten.
As was the case with Daruvala, the signing of Maini also works as a good position for the Indian manufacturer, with an Indian driver at an Indian team making for strong marketing as well. Maini will get a chance to work on his racing skills, as well as the honour of doing in-season rookie tests for the team.
Maini's announcement as Mahindra's reserve driver also comes at a strong time for the 23-year old, who currently drives for Campos' Formula 2 outfit, and is racing in his rookie season of Formula 2.
The Indian racer was one of the standout performers during the early stages of the season, bringing home a fourth place in the feature race at Bahrain, in a stunning weekend for the Spanish team.
Further success would follow down under, when Maini brought home a podium in the weekend's sprint race, the inaugural weekend of Formula 2 down under.
However, Maini's form has faded across the season, with Campos struggling to manage the same level of operational efficiency as their rivals, and Maini continuing to learn the ropes of racing in Formula One's premier feeder series.
Maini's efforts wouldn't go unnoticed, though. Alpine were keen to take a look at the 23-year old racer's talents and impressive motor racing skills, signing the Indian into their driver academy.
Maini became the latest signing to an academy brimming with talent, headlined by F2 racers Jack Doohan, Victor Martins, F3 racers Gabriele Mini, Nikita Bedrin, and Sophia Florsch, and young F1 Academy racer Abbi Pulling,
In addition to this, the 'Flying Finn' Mika Hakkinen was announced as Maini's mentor, and the Campos racer would be looking to gain plenty of insights from the double world champion, and look to hone his racing skills going into 2024.
Thus, one could say Maini is indeed experiencing a boom, as his stock has risen over the past few months, and the latest announcement as reserve driver for Mahindra only adds even more value to his growing racing resume.
Maini likened his signing as reserve driver at Mahindra to a 'homecoming', and said:
“It’s a huge honour to be joining Mahindra Racing. Being an Indian driver, and the team being Indian, it feels in many ways like coming home."
“A lot of my work will be concentrated on the simulator, and hopefully getting in the car for the Rookie Test. I’m just going to try and learn as much as I can, it’s a different style of racing.
“I’ll be doing as much work as possible on the sim with the engineers to try and be helpful for both Edoardo and Nyck, and to try and help push the team forward on-track."
“Mahindra is a huge manufacturer, so for me, it’s a massive deal to be signing with them. Being an Indian brand, it’s the cherry on top of the cake. I’m super excited to get started.”
CEO of Mahindra Racing, Fred Bertrand also expressed plenty of joy on signing Maini, impressed by the Indian's motor racing record:
"We are excited to welcome Kush to Mahindra Racing as a Reserve Driver. He has a great record that speaks for itself in the junior formulae and is an exciting talent to add to our driver lineup."
“We are a very future-focused team, so the opportunity to support new and emerging talent, such as Kush, is one we are naturally keen to explore. We’ve been watching him in FIA Formula 2 this season, and believe he has all the key skills and attributes to help Mahindra Racing push on for greater success in the future."
“His synergy with Edoardo, Nyck, and Jordan will play an important role in the team’s continued push for better performance on-track, and off-track he is a superb ambassador for India within motorsport.”
And his synergy with Mahindra's new line-up of Nyck de Vries and Edoardo Mortara will certainly form an important part of Mahindra Racing's future in the series, the Banbury-based team looking to bounce back from a tenth-position finish in the debut season of the Gen3 era.