Narain Karthikeyan will
return to the cockpit of an F1 car before his home grand prix next month, after former employer HRT confirmed that the Indian driver would be back in harness during practice at the Singapore Grand Prix this weekend.
Karthikeyan broke a five-year absence from the top flight when he agreed to join the Spanish backmarker for 2011, but his comeback lasted only until the British Grand Prix, when Red Bull parachuted protégé Daniel Ricciardo into his seat to gain experience and paid the Colin Kolles-run squad for the privilege. Since then, however, it has been heavily rumoured that the team would seek to gain as much leverage as possible from Karthikeyan and the inaugural Indian Grand Prix, with the journeyman NASCAR and sportscar driver likely to race alongside either Ricciardo or erstwhile team-mate Tonio Liuzzi, but it now appears that he will get a chance to reacclimatise during one of the 90-minute practice sessions in Singapore on Friday.
“It is great to have Narain back in the car as it will give him critical seat time before he drives at the Indian GP," Kolles commented, "He is the best driver to come out of the region and is undoubtedly extremely talented as he has proved through his progress this season.”
While Karun Chandhok, who is likely to feature with Team Lotus at Buddh International next month, may disagree with Kolles' claim, Karthikeyan admitted that he would nonetheless be excited by the chance to get back behind the wheel of the F111.
"Of course, it's a great feeling to be driving on a grand prix weekend once again, [although] the team had assured me that I'd be driving [in India] when I stepped out of my seat after the European GP," he revealed.
"The Singapore circuit will definitely be a challenge as it is new to me, so I'll have to get to grips with it fairly quickly. From what I know, it is a very demanding race physically, not only because of the temperatures and humidity, but also, being a high-speed street circuit, it is extremely bumpy.
"Like any other street circuit, grip builds up through the weekend and car set-up will have to be constantly evolved to get the best out of it. Overall, it is a great place to return to race proceedings, and will go a long way to get me back in the rhythm for the Indian GP. Sincere thanks to my ever faithful sponsor the Tata Group, and recent support from both Hero Motors and Base batteries."