Two of the drivers who were on the starting grid in F1 last year are now looking to move to the United States for the next phase of their racing careers now it seems that the door to Grand Prix racing has firmly closed behind them.
Bruno Senna raced with Williams
F1 in 2012 but was ousted in favour of test and development driver Valtteri Bottas over the winter. Since leaving F1 he's been competing in the FIA World Endurance Championship, and was in contention for a GT class podium position in the Le Mans 24 Hour race in June in the #95 Aston Martin Vantage before a late crash by one of his co-drivers.
India's first F1 driver Narain Karthikeyan was left stranded by the implosion of HRT at the end of 2012 and without a prospect of a 2013 Grand Prix race seat. Unlike Senna, however, Karthikeyan eventually decided to remain committed to open-wheel racing and picked up a place in the AutoGP World Championship which could be seen as a retrograde step after hitting the heights of F1.
“There is no comparison with F1 car or driving but I am happy racing in AutoGP," Karthikeyan told the Indo-Asian News Service. "There is no better feeling for a driver than winning a race. It is nice to be beating some of the young guys and unlike F1, everyone has the same car, a kind of level-playing field and thus the results are all the more satisfying.
"Obviously, the cars are less hi-tech than F1 but it is still a very powerful single-seater with good downforce," he explained. "When you have far younger drivers to match up to and beat, you are always learning and trying to find that extra tenth, which means you're always improving.
"The format is more of a sprint and we have only a single pit-stop and the races aren't too long," he continued. "But unlike F1 where you are usually in a race of your own after the first pit-stop, especially in my situation at HRT where we had no one to race with, the AutoGP races are on the limit from start to the flag."
While Karthikeyan insists that he was fully committed to AutoGP in 2013, longer-term he's looking at a move to the States and a possible seat in the IZOD IndyCar Series and ultimately a run in the famous Indianapolis 500.
"This year, I am fully concentrating on finishing the AutoGP World Series, and hopefully winning the championship," he said. "It is going to be difficult but along with my new team Super Nova we are going to push till the end and we'll see what happens.
"I want to continue to race single-seaters and, outside of F1, IndyCar is the best option [to allow me to do that]," he told reporters earlier this year. Until he signed up with Super Nova in AutoGP, Karthikeyan name had been linked to the second race seat at Dale Coyne Racing which would have put him alongside another ex-F1 driver, Justin Wilson.