17-year-old Daruvala, a Force India Academy product, impressed in his maiden single seater outing by securing three podium finishes in the 2015 Formula Renault 2.0 NEC series. The Mumbai boy graduated to Formula cars after delivering consistent performances at the karting level.

"He is doing very well. I am confident he will continue to do well. He is getting fitter, he is getting more experience and he will get better over time. He has made us proud so far and I think he will make us even more proud in the future," Mallya told PTI from Austin during the United States Grand Prix that took place over the weekend.

Mallya added: "At the end of the day, it is tough to predict (when Daruvala will drive for Force India). You have to see the experience as the season progresses. Certainly 2016 is too early, 2018 is a more realistic target provided he continues to progress the way we expect him to progress."

He had earlier said that Daruvala will need at least two productive single seater seasons before taking the F1 plunge. The liquor baron has preferred an all foreign driver line-up ever since buying the team in 2007.

Mallya had the option of picking either India's first Formula 1 driver Narain Karthikeyan or Karun Chandhok soon after he bought the team but he decided against it, saying that "he cannot be expected to pick Indian drivers just because he owned a team".

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