Parth’s Renault path

Parth Ghorpade of BVM Racing with driver coach Frankie Provenzano at the Misano Circuit in Italy.-

As much as the quality of the competition, the seriousness with which people who matter in Europe view the Formula Renault Series (both 2.0 and 3.5) lends significance to the championship. According to Parth Ghorpade, who is the only Indian taking part in the event, it is probably the most keenly watched for new talent along with the European F3. By G. Raghunath.

Five top-10 finishes in 14 races run over seven rounds. It wasn’t, after all, a bad performance by a young racing driver who was competing in only his first season in the 2013 Formula Renault 2.0 Alps Series, which ranks as one of the most competitive open-wheel junior championships in the world. And had it not been for mechanical glitches and his own sporadic bad patches, Parth Ghorpade, the only Indian on the grid, could have finished far higher than the 16th place he finally achieved from among a line-up of 42 drivers.

For the record, Antonio Fuoco of Italy, with six victories and five podium finishes, won the 2013 championship.

“I did not have the best of luck. A combination of mechanical issues and other people’s mistakes cost me at least half a dozen certain points finishes which would have seen me comfortably finish in the top 10 overall,” said Parth, who represented BVM Racing from Italy in the FR 2.0 Series.

“However, it has been a very good series from the development point of view,” the 20-year-old driver added. “The competition has been extremely strong, but this is what I had expected anyway. I started very late in the preparation but was quick from the very beginning and finished the series very strongly.”

Parth’s best performance in the FR 2.0 championship was a fifth-place finish in the first race of the sixth round at Mugello, Italy.

Picking his best moment of the Series, the winner of the 2012 Formula Pilota Asian Championship said: “It is perhaps the last race at Imola where I started P 15 and finished P 6. It was the third top-10 in four races and only an electrical failure spoilt the sequence of four out of four. Combined with the previous strong finish at Mugello, it was a good way to end the season.”

Filling in on his experiences in FR 2.0, Parth said it was completely different when compared with the MRF Championship in India or other series in Asia. “The level and the depth of the competition make the FR 2.0 Series very interesting. Most grids have 30-plus cars and the top 15 drivers are capable of finishing in the top five. Even in times of economic trouble, the Series runs with full grids,” said the youngster, who drove in the support races during the Indian Grand Prix in October this year.

Taking into account our nation’s disposition towards motorsport — which is still classified as adventure sport here — it is highly unlikely that a series for young drivers in the same league as FR 2.0 will be run in India in the near future.

Parth acquiesces: “At the moment, no. We do not have enough tracks, or the number of teams willing to make the investment in participating at this level. From the drivers’ side, it is not the lack of talent, but just the high cost that would be a deterrent to big grids. MRF comes close with a similar car, but it is run by a single team. The JK BMW Series is also a good initiative and a good start for beginners. But to get to the level of a series like FR 2.0, it will take a while.”

As much as the quality of the competition, the seriousness with which people who matter in Europe view the FR Series (both 2.0 and 3.5) lends significance to the championship. According to Parth, it is probably the most keenly watched for new talent along with the European F3.

“If you look at the McLaren and BRDC nominees for the Drivers’ award, a high percentage of them are from FR 2.0. If you see the timings at the recent GP3 test in Abu Dhabi, one of the quickest has been Pierre Gasly of France, the current Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup champion. He is a rookie here, but obviously two seasons in Formula Renault 2.0 have been good training.

“Just for the record, we qualified within .003 seconds of each other at Mugello (sixth round of the FR 2.0 championship. So yes, the FR 2.0 series is taken very seriously in Europe and I made the right decision in opting for it.”

What it's all about

Formula Renault 2.0 Alps is the offshoot of the unification of the Formula Renault 2.0 Middle European Championship and the Formula Renault 2.0 Italia.

In this open-wheel racing, the cars, with Tatuus chassis, are powered by the two-litre, 250 BHP Renault Clio engines. They ride on Michelin tyres.

It’s a feeder series for GP3 or Formula Renault 3.5.

Kimi Raikonnen moved into Formula One directly from Formula Renault 2.0. The Finn later went on to win the F1 World Championship in 2007.

Daniil Kvyat, who is set to make his Formula One debut in 2014, drove in the Formula Renault 2.0 Series until he moved to GP3 for a season last year. He will be driving for Scuderia Toro Rosso.