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Hispania offers Karthikeyan unexpected lifeline

In a shock announcement, Narain Karthikeyan - a man who has not begun a grand prix in more than five years - has revealed that he has signed a deal to race for Hispania Racing (HRT) in F1 2011
Struggling Spanish outfit Hispania Racing (HRT) has announced the first of its two drivers for the F1 2011 World Championship campaign – with the unexpected appointment of Narain Karthikeyan, a man who has not featured on the grand prix grid for more than five years.

Karthikeyan began 19 races in the top flight for Jordan/Midland F1 back in 2005, achieving a best finish of fourth place in the farcical and largely-boycotted US Grand Prix at Indianapolis, in which only six cars actually took the start. After being released from his contract come season's end, the first Indian driver to compete at the highest level joined Williams for the following two years as a test driver.

He subsequently represented his country in the now-defunct A1GP World Cup of Motorsport from 2007 to 2009, claiming India's breakthrough victory on the international stage at Zhuhai in China in late 2007. He later switched to sportscars with appearances for Kolles Audi in the Le Mans Series and iconic Le Mans 24 Hours, finishing seventh on his debut in 2009 and again making history as the first of his countrymen ever to enter the legendary French round-the-clock classic.

Last year, Karthikeyan raced in the football-themed Superleague Formula for Dutch club PSV Eindhoven – triumphing along the way at his favourite circuit, Brands Hatch – as well as in NASCAR's Camping World Truck Series across the Pond in America. Whilst he has been sporadically linked with a variety of roles in F1 in recent years – most prominently with Force India – in truth, the 33-year-old's chances appeared slim. Until now.

“I've worked really hard to come back to F1,” he enthused, “and it will be a dream come true to race in front of my home crowd in the (inaugural) Indian Grand Prix in October. I'm looking forward to them spurring me on with their blessings and good wishes.

“It's been a while in-the-making, but I am delighted to be racing again in F1 in 2011. I've always maintained that my time in F1 was not over, and now I'm making good on that promise. I am confident that I have the pace, the fitness and the will to succeed in F1 – and I am extremely grateful to the Tata Group, without whose unwavering support, this comeback would not have been possible.

“I'm ramping up my fitness regime big-time. I see plenty of hours in the gym in the near future – but I'm looking forward to it! I'm looking forward to racing for HRT, and to working again with (team principal) Dr. Colin Kolles. We have a long-standing and excellent working relationship together.”

HRT is striving to improve upon its poor performance during its maiden campaign in F1 in 2010 after inking a gearbox-supply deal with Williams, with a 'major sponsor' announcement reportedly also in the pipeline [see separate story – click here].

Related Pictures

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Pastor Maldonado (VEN), Hispania Racing F1 Team, HRT
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Friday Practice 1, Bruno Senna (BRA), Hispania Racing F1 Team (HRT), F110
Narain Karthikeyan - Williams
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Narain Karthikeyan - Williams
14 KOLLES DEU M Audi R10 TDI Narain Karthikeyan (IND)
25.06.2017 - Race, Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W08
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25.06.2017 - Race, The race stopped
25.06.2017 - Race, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W08
25.06.2017 - Race, The Safety car and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W08
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25.06.2017 - Race, Sergio Perez (MEX) Sahara Force India F1 VJM010 and Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H
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Kedhar - Unregistered

January 06, 2011 8:30 PM

It is obvious that this is a pay drive. Having said that, Narain deserves another shot. He was brilliant the 1st half of 2005 even the mid season review on f1.com in 2005 calls him a future star. Unfortunately for him Kolles was an ass**** in 2005 and when trevor carlin left as team principle Kolles mocked Karthikeyan unnecessarily and pressured him into performing badly. Him having been chosen by Sir Frank Williams (not for sponsor reasons) shows that he has talent and unfortunately due to Willams' reliance on Toyota, Nakajima was given the nod instead of NK and we all know how well that went. I heard somewhere that past f1 engineers who worked with him at williams have said that he is as good as people like Sato and even Button and that he was just at the wrong place at the wrong time. He deserves another chance and him being treated like Yuji Ide, Yamamoto etc... is frankly ridiculous! KC also deserves another shot btw. It is obvious that this is a pay drive. Having said

Kedhar - Unregistered

January 07, 2011 1:01 AM

@BenM ... What the hell is everyone on about Karun???? He raced for 10 races in f1 that too for a backmarker at whom nobody looks at and its very difficult to judge how good he is. Before f1 he was dismal in GP2 (partly because of bad luck but mostly because he kept making excuses while his teammates were beating him). Narain on the other hand has won in every single seater racing series except f1. He was super quick in f3 getting pole at macau and was again quick in nissan world series. I wish to remind you that NK had a bloody good first half of the season in 2005, being much better than Karun in his 10 races. Just because Karun is a nice guy, his driving skills are being overrated.

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