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.
Sakon Yamamoto has retained the second race seat in the Hispania HRT Team for the Belgian Grand Prix next weekend.
The Japanese driver who has been consistently off the pace in the backmarker team was chosen ahead of popular Indian driver Karun Chandhok who after 3 races out of the seat must be considering his options for a team move.
Hispania have been rumoured to be having large financial difficulties, and the paddock is awash with rumours that Yamamoto, who previously only drove for Spyker and Super Aguri, is meerly racing because of money he can bring to the ailing Spanish squad.
Speaking about his continued spell in the car, Yamamoto said: “I am looking forward to be back in action after the break. In 2007, I was already running in Spa-Francorchamps with Spyker F1.”
Sakon Yamamoto has retained his race seat with Hispania for the Hungarian Grand Prix, despite poor performances across the weekend in both of his previous races.
The Japanese driver, who has previous race experience with Spyker and Super Aguri, was drafted in as a replacement for Bruno Senna at the British Grand Prix. However last weekend Senna was back for the German Grand Prix, and popular Indian racer Karun Chandhok was dropped.
There has been a furor of speculation surrounding the appointment of Yamamoto, who was a second slower than Tonio Liuzzi in qualifying for the German Grand Prix – worth noting the Italian had smashed his car up only 3 laps in to qualifying too, with people suggesting the decision revolves entirely around money.
If the decision was on driver skill then the other test driver, one of the sports most overlooked men, Christian Klien should be racing.
“I can’t wait to go back to the Hungaroring as I know the circuit already very well from my Formula 1 races with Super Aguri, Spyker F1 and with ART in GP2 series,” said Yamamoto in a team preview.
The team say they are retaining Chandhok, but the chances of him racing again this season are looking slimmer by the day.
Sakon Yamamoto is set to replace popular Indian F1 driver Karun Chandhok at the German Grand Prix next weekend, as the Japanese driver makes his second appearance this season for HRT F1.
Yamamoto replaced Bruno Senna in surprise circumstances the evening before the British Grand Prix, a move widely suspected to be about sponsorship money. However it has been revealed in Auto Bild and on popular motoring website Pistonheads that Senna was allegedly replaced because he sent an email criticising team boss Colin Kolles to…wait for it….Colin Kolles himself! A bit of a mistake from the talented Brazilian.
“After Sakon Yamamoto gave a very positive performance in Silverstone, the team has decided to give the Japanese driver another opportunity to drive the car alongside Bruno Senna,” said the team in a statement.
But now pay driver Yamamoto is racing alongside Senna, there has been uproar between fans on Twitter, with campaigns being started to get Chandhok his seat back. The man himself though is less concerned about his situation, believing he will race again this season.
“It’s not defined for the rest of the season and I expect to be back in the car at some races,” the Indian driver told Autosport this morning.
“Probably not all of them, but I do expect to be back in the car and racing soon.”
Karun Chandhok, the popular Indian driver has said that he believes Geoff Willis will be the saviour of the Hispania team for this season, and almost certainly next season.
Willis, a highly experienced aerodynamicist and engineer has worked with various teams including Red Bull Racing, and was drafted into Hispania HRT to provide the team with advice on how to advance their 2010 car, and help design the 2011 machine. Willis described the 2010 car as “a dog, absolutely awful” previously.
However Chandhok believes his input is going to be absolutely vital.
Speaking about how he sees the next few months panning out, Chandhok told Autosport Magazine: “As long as there is a car in the pitlane and my seat in it, I will go drag the arse out of it.
“I have to look at it with a slightly long-term view. If the team improves I would love to be here, and if they can give Geoff the opportunity and budget to build a good car for 2011, he could do a good job.
“He has done it in the past, he has a capable team of aero people that he is pulling together from other teams and, if he does have the right financial possibility and the right infrastructure, it won’t be a bad place to be next year.
“I want to be in the best possible place for 2011, and I reckon this team has the potential if Geoff is given the right opportunity – he is key to where we go.”
Speaking about his own performance in an honest and frank interview with Autosport this week, he said he was rather happy.
“At the end of the day, you give me a car that is capable of doing a certain lap time and my job is to do that lap time,” he said. “And as long as I am quicker than Bruno [Senna], as I have been so far, and people see that I am doing well in the car, then it is good for me.
“They put Christian Klien in the car in Spain and within three laps I went quicker than him, with the same tyre and same fuel. So you can argue all you want, but I feel I am extracting the maximum I can out of this car.
“It is really down to the team to develop it. There is only so much I can do.”
There has been significant rumour that Hispania will replace one of their drivers with Christian Klien in the very near future, and although Karun is faster than Bruno Senna you can be your bottom dollar that if one of those two is to lose their seat it will be Chandhok.
Bernie Ecclestone has cast doubt upon the long and even short term future of the Spanish based team Hispania HRT Racing Team.
The team, born from the ashes of Campos Meta, have had no testing time, launching their car days before the first grand prix in Bahrain. The team fired up their cars for the first time in the garages ahead of free practice in the gulf state.
The team’s chassis and aero package has been described by both Geoff Wills, a consultant drafted in and test driver Christian Klien as “unworkable, slow and surprisingly bad”. They have been up to 8 seconds off the pace of the front runners, leading some to describe the cars as dangerous.
Drivers Bruno Senna and Karun Chandhok have tried their best, and both look competent racers but the car itself is very poor. Senna looks tired and bored with the team, and could well be considering a future elsewhere. The drivers may not be the problem but drafting in experienced Christian Klien and Sakon Yamamoto must mean that the current line up and considering their futures.
With a lack of sponsors, it is unknown where the money to pay for the significant upgrades would come from.
Now in an exclusive interview with a British newspaper about the season so far, Ecclestone states that he is providing aid and assistance to the ailing squad just a handful of races into the season.
“HRT have got problems. I will sort it out,” Ecclestone told the Telegraph in an interview on Friday.
“I’d like to see 12 teams finish the season because they have made the commitment to come in.
“We might lose one of them. But I’m doing my bit to make sure it doesn’t happen.”
Karun Chandhok, the rookie who will be racing alongside Bruno Senna at HRT this season says he is confident that by the European rounds of the season his team will be within point scoring positions.
Chandhok, who previously raced in GP2 and tested for Red Bull, says he expects initially things will be tough but HRT can prove themselves worthy contenders.
The team looked unlikely to even make the grid until 2 weeks ago when they were bailed out, and then the car launched a few days ago in Spain.
“Our goal early on in the season is to show the world that we are a credible company,” Chandhok told Indian newspaper the Deccan Herald. “The focus is to gain some mileage, reliability and experience in the first season.
“We’ll probably be off the mark in the first four races but from Catalunya, Spain, we will prove a challenge. You never know, we could also bag some points late in the season.”
Chandhok also said he felt no ill feeling towards Vijay Mallya who runs Force India with regards to him not giving him a race seat despite it being sold as a national team.
“He called me and wished me well,” Chandhok said of Mallya. “Force India required something else at that point of time and they have now turned into a very good team.
“I hold nothing against Vijay. I wanted to drive in F1 and it didn’t matter to me which team I drove for. My priority is to stay in F1 and give it my best.
“I will consider driving for Force India if an offer does pop up and if they are still on a high, in terms of racing.”
Hispania, the recently re-named Campos Meta team have launched their first ever car last night with just over one week to go before the first round of the 2010 season in Bahrain.
The team, which was saved from extinction before its first race by businessman Jose Ramon Carabante, got re-named HRT-F1 a couple of days ago and confirmed Karun Chandhok as its second driver yesterday morning before displaying its car yesterday evening.
The machine has a chassis constructed by Dallara and engines by Cosworth, with be managed by new team principal Colin Kolles and Bruno Senna will bring back the eternal namesake to Formula One when he steps into the cockpit alongside Chandhok.
The car itself lacks sponsors, and is finished in a grey paint with a feint colouring of Spanish flag. Embratel is the only confirmed sponsor thus far through their deal with Senna.
“I am excited by our driver line-up and the amazing effort and passion I have witnessed from our entire team to get us to this point,” said Colin Kolles during a team presentation in Murcia, Spain.
“We have all tools in our hands to become the most successful new team in the F1 paddock this year.”
“There are always development and human issues within a team, but we are close to achieving our breakthrough in F1 and the coming season will be a massive learning curve for us working together.
“It would be a dream to win our first point in our first race, but we are focused on taking things one step at a time and building on our competitiveness as the season goes on.”