15/08/2011

Narain Karthikeyan's journey so far - shock comeback, shock departure!

While continue our "journey so far" feature today with Narain Karthikeyan. Our opinions on his season so far are below:

Darshan Chokhani
Narain Karthikeyan was a surprise pick by HRT for the 2011 season. The first Indian F1 driver who last raced in 2005 was back in F1, after a gap of about 6 years. Considering the gap, it was evident that it will take some time for him to get used to the new cars, rules & regulations. He started off with testing in Valencia in the 2010 car where the prime motive was to get used to the Pirelli tyres.

His season had a shaky start in Australian GP as he couldn’t get much run in the car and as result of the 107% rule, he didn’t get to race as well, as both the cars failed to qualify under the time. Things started looking good for him from Malaysian GP as he qualified for the race and started a race after a gap of 6 years. His first race finish came in Chinese GP, while his best finish came in Canadian GP where he finished P14 but was pushed down due to penalty to P17 (which is his best result). From then on he qualified (except in Monaco where both HRT’s didn’t run but were given permission to race) & finished in all the races comfortably as the car improved as the season went on.

Just before the British GP, came a shocker of a news that Narain will not be racing for undisclosed number of races as he was replaced by Daniel Ricciardo (STR’s reserve driver). He got a FP1 run in Germany though. Looking at his season so far I think he has done a reasonable job, coming back after a gap and being able to finish 6 races out of 7 is quite an effort.. We also have to keep in mind the car he has and so I am quite ok with the results. It’s being rumored that he will back for Indian GP, lets wait and see.

Peter Santamaria-Woods
Simmilar to Karun Chandhok who we reviewed last week it has also been a mixed season for Narain Karthikeyan.

Narian and HRT shocked the World by announcing the Indian as their driver for the 2011 season. It was clear the decision was all about money; HRT need money, Narain brings money through his Tata sponsorship - nevertheless we all hoped for the best for him ... the last time he had raced was back in 2005 when he was consistently outpaced by his then teammate Tiago Monterio.

This season though it would be a different story. Despite a six year absense for the sport Narain immediately got to simmilar pace of teammate Vitantonio Liuzzi although the car was very slow and unreliable compared to other teams at the start of the season. In Australia both Liuzzi and Karthikeyan failed to qualify for the race due to the 107% rule and in Malaysia the team had a double DNF. However then results started to improve and Narain finished every race since then - always on simmilar pace to Liuzzi aswell.

The team then shocked the World once more and announced that Narain would not race from the British GP onwards. Disappointing news for him as he'd done nothing wrong. Plus he usually runs well at Silverstone so it was doubley disappointing. Yet again for HRT the decision was down to money, Red Bull paying more per race to get Daniel Ricciardo a seat compared to what Tata give HRT per race. An understandable decision for HRT though, they need the money and can't be blamed.

There are roumers that Narain, once again like Karun, will be back in the car for the Indian GP. Apart from that the future is not looking good for the Indian and i think this may well be the last time we see him in F1 - i'm expecting him to head over to the US to race in Nascar or Indycar for 2012.

That concludes the Narain Karthikeyan review - to read our previous review of Karun Chandhok click here.

Next up will be the Force India review; stay tuned for that!

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