India remain on course for their long awaited first points in A1 Grand Prix after Narain Karthikeyan claimed the team's maiden top ten starting slot for the sprint race at Taupo, even if tenth proved something of a come down following their heroics in practice.

The arrival of the former Jordan Grand Prix driver to the fold has revitalised the struggling squad in a short space of time, with the Williams test driver proving a front runner in all four practice sessions and looking to translate that pace into qualifying.

However, a lack of data in getting the most out of new tyres over a single lap and an unusual qualifying format to learn proved a bugbear for Karthikeyan early on in the session, before he eventually began to improve over the final two segments to nonetheless easily claim the team's best starting position yet.

Still, while not as headline grabbing as it was in practice, Karthikeyan was pleased with his performance and was continuing to look at the broader picture and work for a points paying position in the feature race at least.

"The car acted very differently on new tyres compared to old tyres and we were caught out with that. The balance seems to change quite a lot, so we weren't able to fully benefit from the new tyres. Again, these are things we need to learn as a team. I expected there to be some characteristics like this, which the team and I would learn together.

"I'm pleased with tenth, it's a good start, and as I said at the beginning of the week, we are aiming to get some points, and I think we can do that this weekend. The team didn't really have any data, because the previous drivers have been quite inexperienced, so we've been developing the whole package. We'll take it one step at a time and build on what we've learnt today."

With their first points at stake, A1 Team India seat holder Yohann Setna is also being cautious about race day, claiming he merely wants Karthikeyan to keep his nose clean and get the nation off the mark.

"Top ten qualifying is what we were hoping for at the beginning of the weekend. I think we'll be able to pick up a couple of places in the Sprint race which should help us in the Feature race. We'll be playing it safe in the Sprint race, Narain hasn't done a rolling start for a while, so we won't be trying any heroics. If we can get a couple of points out of the weekend, it will be exactly what we wanted."

 

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