17 January 2011
Timing is key to Karthikeyan return
Narain Karthikeyan insists that he won't be embarrassed on his F1 return, having signed with HRT for 2011.
Narain Karthikeyan believes that the timing of his return to F1 could not have been better, especially with the inaugural Indian Grand Prix on the horizon later this season.
The former Jordan racer - who contested just 19 rounds of the world championship before being consigned to a testing role with Williams and eventually leaving the top flight to prolong his career in other categories - has signed a one-year deal with the Hispania Racing team that propped up the grid in 2010, but insists that he is looking forward to returning.
"The opportunity came up through Dr Colin Kolles," Karthikeyan told the BBC's Hindi service,. "I've known him for a long time and, when he said this could be a good thing this year, we just took it."
The 'good thing' Karthikeyan refers to almost certainly means the forthcoming Indian GP - which will be staged on a circuit still under construction at Greater Noida, near New Delhi, in late October - and he insists that returning to F1 after three years away won't be a problem.
"It's the correct timing, I think, because we have the Indian F1 race on 30 October," he confirmed, "[Of course], I'll have to adapt to the challenges [but], having driven many cars, I'm hoping to do that very quickly, [even though F1] is completely different, from driving the car to the physical fitness levels required.
During his sojourn, Karthikeyan established himself both in sportscars - where he drove for Kolles' Audi team - and NASCAR, where he wowed the United States in the third tier Truck series, but he admits that the lure of F1 was too great to refuse, despite having been poised to re-sign for another season in America.
While he has been away, much has changed on the F1 landscape, not least the cars themselves but, for the Indian, some things never appear to alter.
"Speaking to other drivers, the lap times are pretty similar to 2005, 2006 and 2007," he commented, before addressing the financial side of the sport, which many believe was behind his return with the cash-strapped HRT outfit.
Despite the presence of an Indian driver on the grid at the inaugural Indian GP being expected to raise interest to even greater levels on the sub-continent, Karthikeyan is reluctant to make too many predictions for his year ahead.
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