Three Indian teenagers, picked by a panel including Lewis Hamilton's father Anthony, were presented by Force India Thursday as winners of a competition to find and fund future Formula One drivers.

The British-based team plans to finance their training in Europe as part of the One from a Billion search.

Criticised by local media for not having an Indian driver, Force India co-owner Vijay Mallya was convinced the boys had it in them to become the country's answer to McLaren's Hamilton.

I'm optimistic we will have more than one home-grown Formula One driver, Mallya told reporters, announcing the result of the contest.

Narain Karthikeyan is the lone local driver in this weekend's Indian Grand Prix. Lotus reserve Karun Chandhok's role will be confined to Friday morning practice.

Hamilton senior shared Mallya's optimism, saying competition winners Arjun Maini, Tarun Reddy and Jehan Daruvala had the potential.

Given the support, they can become brilliant drivers. It's important for them to race in Europe. If you have to be the best, you have to be among the best, he said.

(Editing by Dave Thompson)