India’s Narain Karthikeyan has been confirmed as team driver for HRT’s 2012 Formula One lineup alongside Pedro de la Rosa. With the announcement ended Italian Vitantonio Liuzzi’s chances of being at the seat at the 2012 F1 races for the Spanish team. Karthikeyan isn’t too bothered about the HRT’s driver lineup being older than most.
Luis Perez-Sala, team principal had this to say. “I am pleased to count on Narain for this season, as he will contribute continuity and stability,” was quoted as saying in a statement by the Spanish team.” “He is a quick, intuitive and secure driver who met his expectations despite a lack of continuity last year. Of the eight grands prix he contested in 2011, he only failed to finish on one occasion and had a great performance in the last race he took part in.”
Narain Karthikeyan had this to say. “Honestly, it’s not a factor at all. I can point out five-six drivers who are in their mid-30s and above. Michael Schumacher is 40-plus, (Mark) Webber in his mid-30s, so am I. How does it matter?” “As long as you are fit, your reflex is okay and as long as you have not had a big accident, I think you should be okay.”
Back in 2005, when Jordan signed him, Narain became the first Indian Formula one driver. After a 5 year gap, he made it back to F1 when HRT signed him last year. Soon he went from team driver to test driver as Daniel Ricciardo replaced him in the driver’s seat on race day. He did take the reins again at the inaugural 2011 Indian Grand Prix at Greater Noida. Here he replaced team member Liuzzi, and did finish the race ahead of team mate, Ricciardo who has now moved to Toro Rosso.
Narain’s 17th place finish went a long way in securing his seat at HRT for the 2012 F1 season. Narain Karthikeyan went on to add. “Ricciardo was the blue-eyed boy and I beat him despite being low on practice.” “I believe it really made an impact on the team management. Make no mistake, there are drivers with more resources and it would be wrong to say that I secured the drive just because of sponsorship.” At Jerez next week, it’ll be Pedro de la Rosa behind the HRT wheel for pre-season tests and Karthikeyan would join in tests in Barcelona scheduled for 21st -24th February.
About the 2011 Indian Grand prix, Narain had this to say. “It has taken a lot of hard work to make this happen but I am absolutely elated to feature on the 2012 grid with HRT F1.” “I was pleased with our strong performance at the Indian Grand Prix, in front of my passionate home fans and I look forward to building on this result in 2012.”
He further added, “We need to understand that Formula 1 is new to India, we hosted our first race only last year which was a resounding success.” “To build on that momentum, an Indian driver will certainly keep the interest engaged throughout the season, not just in and around the Indian GP. When I debuted in 2005, the interest in F1 had shot up exponentially, so I am proud get an opportunity to forge a stronger connect between India and Formula 1 once again.” “I have been training hard since the end of 2011 to ensure that I was ready for the rigours of F1 if an opportunity arose.” “It is no secret how physically demanding Formula 1 is right now, so I wanted to be physically prepared for the start of the season.” “I am delighted to have signed with HRT F1 Team. With the new management, Pedro, and the team, there is definite potential for progress.”