F1 refugee Narain Karthikeyan will be back in action this weekend, but not in the US-based IndyCar Series that he had been rumoured to be exploring as an alternative to the grand prix scene.
Instead, the likeable Indian will team up with Zele Racing to contest the opening round of the burgeoning AutoGP World Series at Monza, with a view to possibly running the whole championship.
The former Jordan and HRT racer was left high and dry by the Spanish minnow's collapse during the winter, but was thought to be chasing open-wheel options in the United States, where he had previously run in NASCAR's Truck series between F1 stints. With doors on the other side of the Atlantic appearing closed ahead of this weekend's IndyCar opener in St Petersburg, Karthikeyan has turned his attention back to Europe, and happily took up the offer of an AutoGP taster from Austrian-based Zele.
“I was looking forward to continuing my F1 career in 2013 with HRT [but], unfortunately, circumstances within the team lead to the operation shutting down,” the Indian was quoted by the team website, “I have decided to accept the invitation from Michael [Zele], as it keeps me driving a high-powered single-seater and, with a heavily revised car for 2013, lap times are said to be on a par with other single-seater series. I've worked with Zele Racing before, and have known Michael for a long time, [so] I'm looking forward to the first race in Monza, a track I know well.”
Although a season-long campaign has yet to be fully discussed, Karthikeyan will no doubt be aware that Romain Grosjean used the AutoGP title as a springboard back into F1, and hopes that his history with Zele, which stretches back to the days of the World Series by Nissan, will provide a similar boost to his grand prix aspirations.
The Indian will team up with British-born F2 champion Luciano Bacheta in the Zele line-up this weekend.