Narain Karthikeyan has made a surprise return to Formula One after being announced as one of Hispania HRT’s drivers for the 2011 season.
The Indian driver was unveiled as the first racer to be working with the Spanish based squad, who look likely to enter into a second season of racing despite on-going financial concerns. Karthikeyan first raced in Formula One with Jordan in 2005, before spending a brief time as a Williams test driver. He has also raced in Superleague and in Audi sportscars.
Team principal Colin Kolles said: “It is a great pleasure for us to have signed Narain Karthikeyan as our race driver for the 2011 Formula 1 World Championship.
“I have known Narain for a long time and he can revert to the experiences he gained when he was competing for Jordan Grand Prix and being test and reserve driver for Williams F1. Narain has also been driving in other racing series and running in one of the legendary Audi sportscars in the Le Mans Series.
“I am sure that his experience and speed will be very useful for the team during the season. We are welcoming Narain to our team and we look forward to working closely with him this year.”
HRT have yet to announce their second driver, but it will not be Karun Chandhok. He claims he declined the chance to race for the team. Sources also suggest that Bruno Senna will not be returning as he cannot find enough sponsorship capital. Nico Hulkenberg and Tonio Liuzzi are both linked to the seat with the minnows.
Karun Chandhok looks set to be confirmed as the second race driver for the recently revived Campos Grand Prix team.
The Indian driver has tested for Red Bull Racing and spent the past 3 seasons racing in the GP2 championship, Formula One’s feeder series.
He was spotted at a seat fitting with Dallara, the Campos chassis manufacturer, and Colin Kolles the new team principal of Campos says that a deal could be confirmed for him to race alongside Bruno Senna very soon.
“We have been very impressed with Karun’s performance in GP2 and are close to finalising a deal with him,” said Kolles. “India is a great country and it would be great for the sport to have an Indian driver on the grid.
“However we will be in a better position to comment on this over the next few days. My aim now is to make sure that we are there on the grid in Bahrain which will be a huge achievement in itself.
“We are moving in the right direction and will do everything in our power to make sure we are running in Bahrain, with Karun in the car.”
Indian company Spice Group who are the main force behind A1GP Team India have admitted that they are in talks with Super Aguri about a possible investment deal.
The group, if successful, will be the second major Indian investment into F1 after Vijay Mallya invested in the former Spyker team, now known as Force India. There is also an Indian GP coming the schedule in a couple of years.
The group deny that a deal has been reached.
“There has been no acquisition yet,” Spice Group CEO Sehgal was quoted as saying by the Indianinfo website.
“We are talking to two teams at the moment.
“One of them is Super Aguri. As now we are waiting to come up with a realistic valuation of the team. Should we find a number within our reach we will then proceed to buy.”
Super Aguri managing director Daniel Audetto confirmed yesterday the Japanese squad were looking for a partner who will invest in the team.
“We are talking with different people but first Honda has to approve it,” he told Reuters.
“We are also looking for a strong partner. If they bring a lot of money and they want a driver from wherever, then he has to be good and accepted by the FIA.”
If the investment goes through, then it is likely that Narain Karthikeyan could be place din the second seat at the team, forcing Anthony Davidson out. However, Honda who are a huge backer to the team providing engines, and possibly customer chassis’ want to keep Davidson a former test driver.
Narain Karthikeyan has admitted that he is still hoping for a return to F1, despite 3 years without a race drive.
The Indian driver came into F1 in 2005, with a race seat at Jordan Grand Prix, although he managed to achieve very little, interest in F1 in India was highly invigorated and many support him, arguably the countries best ever driver.
He then spent 2 years testing with Williams, but decided to leave this role in search of a race seat; something many thought he would get at the new Force India team owned by fellow countryman Vijay Mallya but this has not yet materialised.
Karthikeyan races with A1GP Team India and recently secured his first victory, but is still wishing to return to the pinnacle of motorsport.
“I was just doing testing and had ample time on my side so I wanted a challenge to keep racing,” he told Reuters.
“This A1GP victory is very essential, so that you can shut up the critics,” he said.
“F1 is not the end of the world, I still have time on my side.”
Karthikeyan said he was not keen on a testing role and wanted at least to be considered as the third driver.
“Definitely, there is an unfinished business in F1,” he said. “There is still (time), it will happen sooner rather than later.
“A1GP for me is not a step back, only a step to the side. I race as hard as possible and try and achieve the best.”
Williams test driver Narain Karthikeyan has admitted that he is still hopeful that he can negotiate his way into a race seat for 2008.
The Indian driver has been testing with Williams since his first season in F1, where he raced for the now defunct Jordan team.
Karthikeyan’s manager spoke out, saying he was confused to why Vijay Mallya had not considered India’s No.1 F1 driver for a race seat with Force India.
“He is the best available racer in the country and Mallya helped him when Narain began his career.” Mark Perkins admitted
“But I don’t know why he is not considering his countryman now,”
Karthikeyan himself admitted that getting a deal with the Indian outfit was unlikely.
”I am not in the fray and I am not even expecting a final minute call from Mallya for the Jerez test. I would have got the call a month ago if they really wanted me.”
Narain Karthikeyan has admitted he is targetting a race seay with the regenrated Spyker team for the 2008 season.
Spyker is in a take-over grip right now, with 50% falling to rich Indian businessman Vijay Mallya, who wants to make a “Team India”, and Narain is the most talented Indian driver so would appeaer perfect to slot into that seat.
“I am talking with the Williams F1 team about the possibilities for next season, but I am also speaking to other teams including Spyker.” Karthikeyan admitted
“Nothing is concrete at this moment but I will keep pushing to get a deal sorted for next season,”