7 December 2010
Karthikeyan denies Force India speculation
Narain Karthikeyan has denied suggestions that a run in Forcd India's simulator could lead to an F1 comeback ahead of the inaugural Indian GP in 2011.
Narain Karthikeyan has attempted to diffuse speculation that he may be preparing for an F1 comeback following reports that he tried out in Force India's simulator following the season-closing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in November.
While Vijay Mallya's team has not been shy about offering potential grand prix candidates a chance to sample its Silverstone-based technology, Karthikeyan insists that little should be read into his presence at the factory, despite making no secret of the fact that he considers F1 unfinished business after his brief flirtation with the top flight in 2005.
"Yes, I did a simulator test for Force India, but I cannot say anything beyond that," the Indian, who also served as test driver for Williams after his race seat disappeared along with Jordan in 2006, told ITV-F1, "Any racing driver will get excited about driving a F1 car and it is the same with me, but there are so many factors that go into F1 and I do not wish to say anything more than that."
The prospect of an Indian Grand Prix joining the schedule in 2011 has raised hopes that both Karthikeyan and 2010 debutant Karun Chandhok could be on the grid, along with national favourite Force India, but Karthikeyan admits that his countryman has a better chance of being a part of the event, following Chandhok's recent comments that his prospects for next season were looking positive.
Since parting company with Williams after two years in the back-up role, Karthikeyan has spent time racing in A1GP, sportscars and Superleague Formula, before attempting to make more history by switching his attention to the USA and NASCAR. Despite IndyCar single-seaters appearing to be a more natural home for a driver who made his name in F3 and Nissan World Series en route to F1, the Indian has made several starts in the NASCAR Truck Series and has his sights set on moving up the stock car ladder.
"I see myself driving in the NASCAR championship for another ten years and, for now, I don't want to talk about F1," Karthikeyan said, despite previously being quoted by ESPN as being excited by the prospect of returning to the top flight.
"I'm looking forward to [the Indian GP] - every driver would like to be in the inaugural race," the 33-year old told the American sports broadcaster, "I did go for a simulator test but that's all that happened. I'm not willing to comment on what happened during and after the tests - I think you should talk to [Vijay] Mallya about the results and my performance."
Force India has yet to name its line-up for next season, with 2010 drivers Adrian Sutil and Vitantonio Liuzzi both listed among the candidates. However, much has been made about new DTM champion - and engine partner Mercedes' protégé - Paul di Resta being a shoo-in for one of the seats, while the unexpected availability of both Nico Hulkenberg and Nick Heidfeld has given the team much to ponder.
Sutil has been linked to possible roles at both Renault and Mercedes, although the latter appears unlikely while Michael Schumacher eyes a second season out of retirement. The younger German is thought to have angered Mallya by considering other options, but remains the most likely partner for di Resta should the team opt to buy Liuzzi out of the second year of his contract.
Virgin and HRT are the other teams with notable vacancies, with Renault now thought likely to confirm the return of Vitaly Petrov for a second season in 2011.
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