Vitantonio Liuzzi will miss the inaugural Indian Grand Prix, HRT team boss, Colin Kolles has announced.
Narain Karthikeyan's one-off return with HRT for his home race at the Buddh International Circuit was confirmed last month [see separate story - click here
]. However, it was not known who would stand aside for the 34-year-old until today, when HRT revealed that Karthikeyan will be paired with Daniel Ricciardo.
“For this single event, Narain will be driving alongside Daniel Ricciardo. I have asked Tonio Liuzzi to step aside for the Indian GP in order to allow driving programs with Ricciardo and Karthikeyan to be completed,” Kolles confirmed. “I have to thank Tonio for his professional approach and attitude.
“After the positive performance the team had in Korea, I hope that we will keep on that line in India.
“Although Narain has already driven around the track and given us a positive feedback, we really don't know what to expect but we are looking forward to it.
“Having Narain, the first Indian driver in F1 history, and Tata with us makes it feel like a home race. Narain is a talented driver and we are proud to be going down this path with him.
“Going to new countries and race tracks gives all teams and sponsors a new platform and opens new opportunities that can be highly beneficial to the sport. Despite not being the most popular sport in India, the excitement around the Grand Prix and the effort that everybody is doing, makes us think that it will be an extremely popular event.”
Karthikeyan, who returned to the top-flight this year with HRT after a five-year absence, was dropped prior to the British GP back in July. However, in the last three events he has taken in Friday free practice 1 to re-familiarise himself with the car, and he can't wait now to race on home soil.
“Driving in front of the home crowd cheering on is going to be a surreal experience. A once in a lifetime experience and I feel extremely fortunate,” he said. “There is a huge buzz around the Grand Prix already and I'm sure that it'll be a resounding success that will motivate more youngsters towards the sport and give us the future F1 drivers.
“Making it into F1 at the time I did was a seriously uphill task and the thought of being able to compete in the inaugural Indian GP was non-existent. But it is finally here and I'll be on the grid.
“It is going to be one of the most challenging circuits on the calendar. There are points at which, if you're in an F1 car, you will see nothing but the sky. The layout itself is going to put tremendous energy through the tyres and the strategy will play a key role in the final result.
“For sure I'll race hard and try to get a good result for myself and the team. I would like to express my gratitude towards Tata Group and the rest of sponsors for their continued support and belief throughout my career”.
Red Bull backed Ricciardo meanwhile also thinks the inaugural Indian GP will be a good one: “I haven't seen the circuit yet but I've tried it out on Red Bull's simulator. I've heard it looks quite good from Mark [Webber] and Sebastian [Vettel] and if they say that then usually their judgment is pretty good,” he continued.
“It's always nice to go to a new place and circuit. I think every driver is excited to see what it is like. I like Indian food but it's a little bit heavy, perhaps not the best for the diet, I will be quite careful leading up to the weekend but maybe on Sunday night I will enjoy a good curry.
“I did a show run in India a couple of weeks ago and there were loads of people, I've heard it's already sold out so there should be quite a good turnout for the race. We had a good performance in Korea and I hope we can keep on improving in India,” Ricciardo summed-up.