Shahaan enjoys first season in cars as front-running force in Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup
Racing as part of a grid of drivers where 95 percent of the competition had at least two years of track experience in cars, Mumbai-born Shahaan Engineer enjoyed an amazing debut season in single-seaters in the 2012 Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup (NEC).
Finishing the campaign as the highest placed car racing rookie, the 17-year-old Indian driver was seventh overall in the championship standings – from more than 50 entrants – in the category’s most competitive year since its inception.
His tremendous run this year was all the more impressive when considering European Formula Renault is the toughest single-seater class at 2.0-litre level and over the last couple of years, for drivers of requisite ability, it has also proven to be the penultimate stepping stone to Formula One.
Shahaan demonstrated clear natural talent and speed in his rookie season, with the highlight of a maiden pole position and double podium finish all coming in one weekend. At the opening event, Shahaan stunned the paddock with a top three qualifying performance, from 39 drivers, at the Hockenheimring in Germany, at which point he was just 16-years-old and the youngest driver in the series.
The major highlight of the year, though, came at Zandvoort in The Netherlands where, soon after he had celebrated his 17th birthday, the Fortec Motorsports driver took his first ever pole position with a storming lap before adding a magnificent set of back-to-back podiums.
Ending the season with a top five finish at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, from 36 drivers, Shahaan’s efforts were all the more impressive as he was one of only two drivers to have never tested or raced at the circuit previously. In addition, he had the pressure of having to learn the seven kilometre track and its many corners during the 15-minute qualifying session.
Proving no obstacle to the youngster, he made his way forward from 16th on the grid to end the race in a lofty fifth position. Finishing the year just a few points shy of the coveted championship top five, he regularly punched above his weight by outperforming numerous second and third year drivers.
“After an amazing season in the 2012 Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup with Fortec, I really want to take the chance to thank again the whole team – especially Ben Salter my race engineer and Jack Howard my mechanic, for providing me with a perfect car all season”, said Shahaan, “With my first year behind me, I really am looking forward to 2013.”
While Shahaan would have relished the opportunity to race in the MRF Challenge series, which began at the weekend as support to the FIA Formula One World Championship’s Indian Grand Prix, the first two events clash with his post-season Formula Renault 2.0 testing schedule in Europe.
Keep up-to-date with Shahaan’s progress throughout the year at www.shahaan.com follow him on Twitter @ShahaanEngineer and also on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ShahaanEngineer