Formula Bharat

An Indian Formula Student competition

Interview: Naveen Devaraj

4 min read
  • Full Name: Naveen Devaraj
  • Role on Formula Bharat: Tech Support and Volunteer Recruitment
  • Company: Tier 2 company
  • Position: Production Engineer
  • Location: Hosur, KA
  • Biography: (We have covered it below!)

Could you describe your background, qualification and how you got involved in Formula Student?

I am originally from Coimbatore and a B. E. Mechanical Engineering graduate of Sree Sastha Institute of Engineering and Technology.  Currently I work as a Production Engineer in a Tier 2 company. Additionally I support FS and other competition teams with seminars and classes through Hades Racing. I also freelance with the Volkswagen Motorsport team.

I got involved in FS through a friend of mine who was first involved as a Go-Kart participant, and then participated as a lead volunteer for 2 years at Supra. The more I learnt about it, the more I wanted to get involved. In 2015, I volunteered at FDC 2015 and then as an official at FSI 2016.

They usually say that once you are in FS, you eat, sleep and breathe it. What was your experience when you graduated and could no longer participate?

The statement rings true! However it may not be the same for everyone. The reason being that not all the team members have same goal or same views. Some do it for their CV, some for fun and some for learning. But then there are very few people who do it for the real passion and dedicate themselves to the process. Those are the people who ‘breathe’ FS. And many then proceed to fulfill their career in Motorsports.

Post graduation, I had gained a lot of practical experience which was class-room theory for many. I was a materials and manufacturing lead in my college team, which involved data collection, materials’ selection, manufacturing different components, handling machines, etc. After weeks of hard work, watching the car run was a feeling I can’t describe till date.

Volunteering at similar events gave me the opportunity to live through my passion and mentor students involved in FS.

As an individual with a lot of dynamic track experience at various events around India, what are the common mistakes you see drivers make on track?

This is a question I have been dying to answer!

First mistake I have to point out, is the pompous attitude some drivers have. I have personally encountered many who want to be treated like ‘kings’. This attitude can be seen not only on the team, but also when they enter the dynamic track and prepare to compete.

Second mistake – not having enough knowledge about the participating vehicle. Many fail in that. As a driver, you should play an equal part in manufacturing of the vehicle as an engineer does. Many drivers believe they just need to drive the car. A passenger car driver does the same job. What’s the difference?

Third mistake – not having enough driving experience with the participating vehicle. I’ve personally come across student drivers that have driven passenger vehicles at 150+ km/hr and have claimed to be race car drivers! If you do not know how to operate a vehicle built by your team, how are you going to achieve that extra second on the track?

What do you think the main benefits of FS are and how would you recommend that students make the most of it ?

There are lots of benefits in FS. Actually FS is miniature of your professional work. In my opinion, especially the motorsports sector. You learn so much, like data collection, research, purchase, documentation, marketing, design, business, team-time-project management, development, analysis, testing, logistics etc. This is also what professional racing teams do.

The same skills apply to other sectors too. Skills such as project team and time management, are used in almost every work field.

At dark side to FS in india is that the exposure to the platform is very poor. The root of FS are the college and university students. Seventy-five percent of college administrations do not know what FS is and how valuable it is to students. The Mechanical Department of the college where I studied at, opened in 2004 and we did our first FS project in 2014. Out of 4000 students in my college, only one student knew about FS. He assisted our team captain, and today he brought me here. Again the same applies to many industries who do not recognize FS. Even if they are aware, they do not understand the breadth of skills students receive from this program.

I believe we must push change in this perspective!