Narain Karthikeyan is hoping that the advent of at least three new teams to the F1 starting grid next year will enable him to return to the top flight five years on from his last competitive appearance at the highest level with Jordan Grand Prix.
USF1, Campos and Manor are all due to join the paddock in 2010, whilst there is also the prospect of the outgoing BMW team either being taken over by an investor or ceding its spot to another of the original list of hopefuls, with Basque outfit Epsilon Euskadi and David Richards' independent Prodrive operation believed to be in pole position for graduation.
Karthikeyan became India's first-ever F1 star when he made his debut for Jordan back in 2005, and took a career-best finish of fourth place in the largely-boycotted US Grand Prix at Indianapolis that year. Although not having raced in the sport since, the former British F3 race-winner went on to test for Williams over the following two seasons, before being released in late 2007.
Though he has since been unsuccessfully linked with openings at Force India and the now-defunct Super Aguri concern, Karthikeyan is adamant that at still just 32, time remains on his side. He has kept himself sharp in the intervening period with stints for A1 Team India in A1GP – achieving his nation's breakthrough success at international level along the way – and Team Kolles in sportscars, but he is clear that the focus of his efforts now is firmly on securing a return to F1.
“I am still young and I believe I have a couple more years to make it again,” he told IANS
. “My managers are obviously looking for opportunities. There are more seats available next year. That is all I can say at the moment. I am not directly [talking to teams], but hopefully through my managers.
“There is a recession on in the US, so the budgets are low. I have no plans for driving in the US as I have the Le Mans Series and A1GP to do, besides hoping to get back to Formula 1.”