Silverstone-based grand prix squad Force India have announced the launch of the Force India F1 Team Academy, an initiative aimed at helping young Indians in to careers in motorsport.

The academy will aim to identify and nurture future racers, designers and mechanics from the nation, which has thus far produced two drivers in the shape of Narain Karthikeyan and Karun Chandhok.

In its first year, the academy will focus on racing talent. Dubbed the “Hunt for 1 from a Billion,” it will see children between the ages of 14 and 17 given the opportunity to contest time trials in a kart at one of seven selected locations across India. Youngsters will be able to get practice behind the wheel at subsidised rates and participate in selection rounds spread over a week in each city, with 14 finalists then selected from each city to compete at the National Finals.

This will then be whittled down to ten finalists, who will progress to a week-long intensive stint at Silverstone. An expert panel will pick three winners, who will be announced at the Grand Prix of India, 28-30 October 2011. The non-racing aspect of the academy, meanwhile, will be rolled out over the next two years.

“The setting up of the Force India F1 Team Academy is a historic milestone in the sports arena in India,” said team boss Vijay Mallya. “It marks the first time that anyone has ever embarked on such an ambitious programme in India.

“Our goal is to create a pool of talent and groom aspirants who show exceptional promise by providing them with the necessary corporate funding and support. Our programmes will provide a clear professional career path in motorsport so that one day our selected candidates are able to represent India in the international arena and hopefully bring glory to the nation.”