Exclusive: Narain Karthikeyan Q&A
Nextgen-Auto’s exclusive interview with HRT’s Narain Karthikeyan
Narain Karthikeyan made his first appearance in Formula 1 way back in 2001 with a test at Silverstone with Jaguar and Jordan, after much success in the lower Formulae by becoming Champion in the Formula Ford UK Winter Series in 1994 and the Formula Asia Series in 1996.
The Indian driver then made an appearance with Minardi in 2003 at Vallelunga, before being signed by Jordan alongside Tiago Monteiro for the 2005 season. Throughout this season, which turned out to be Jordan’s last in the sport, Karthikeyan managed to score five points, largely thanks to the farcical outcome of the United States Grand Prix where only six cars started the race.
After loosing his seat once the 2005 season drew to a conclusion, Karthikeyan became the Williams test driver. This enabled the Indian driver to receive valuable track time in Formula 1 machinery, despite being unable to find a full time drive. Throughout the 2006 and 2007 seasons, Karthikeyan carried out numerous test events for the Grove-based outfit, before leaving F1 completely at the end of the 2007 season to pursue a career in A1GP and the Le Mans Series amongst others.
However, in 2011 Narain Karthikeyan made a return to Formula 1 with HRT alongside Vitantonio Liuzzi. However, after the German Grand Prix halfway through the season, he was forced to make way for rising star Daniel Ricciardo as Karthikeyan became the team’s Friday driver, returning only for his inaugural home race at the Indian Grand Prix.
Despite being replaced halfway through the 2011 season, Narain Karthikeyan returned to a full time drive for this season alongside F1 veteran Pedro de la Rosa. So far Narain Karthikeyan has not been replaced during a race, except for numerous practice sessions at the beginning of a weekend by Dani Clos and Ma Qing Hua. Last month I caught up with Narain, as we discussed the Yas Marina circuit and the season so far.
Q: First of all Narain, many thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk to us. It’s been a difficult season for HRT, however the whole team seems to have remained positive. How has the season so far been for you?
Narain Karthikeyan: At the beginning of the year things weren’t great but we have improved a lot. Now we are operating in a very good way and at a very high level and the effects of this will be seen in 2013.
Q: You out-qualified your vastly experienced team-mate, Pedro de la Rosa, at the Italian Grand Prix for the first time this season. How has the relationship been between you and Pedro this season?
NK: Pedro is a very good guy with a lot of experience and I have a lot of respect for what he has done. We get along very well but it is competition at the end of the day and we like to beat each other.
Q: You have yet to race around the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi. What’s your opinion on the 21-turn circuit, and how much are you looking forward to competing around the track?
NK: It looks quite exciting and the facilities are great. I’ve never driven there so we’ll have to see how it goes. I’ll just have to do a lot of laps and try to learn my way around as soon as possible.
Q: Throughout this season, you have finished as high as 15th at the Monaco Grand Prix. What’s been the highlight of your season so far?
NK: There have been many highlights but Monaco obviously has been the best result I’ve achieved all season. Now we have the pace and I’m improving every time and we hope to keep that momentum. We have nice races coming up which I’m looking forward to but, overall, I’m enjoying the season.
Q: Looking ahead to next season, and Pedro de la Rosa has already stated he hopes to remain a HRT driver for 2013. Do you hope to remain his team-mate for next season?
NK: Yes, that’s the plan. I would like to stay here as everything is set for a much better season in 2013 and I would like to stay here to reap those benefits.
Many thanks to the HRT F1 Team and Narain Karthikeyan for the communication and time taken to complete this interview.
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