Although his weekend in Durban was far from trouble-free, WilliamsF1 test driver Narain Karthikeyan added two more points to A1 Team India's tally with a battling display in the feature race in South Africa.

The weekend started well for the Indian team, with Karthikeyan setting the second fastest time in first practice, to leave confidence high going into qualifying. However, the team's performance was compromised after an accident during Karthikeyan's first flying lap which damaged the steering on his car.

The team worked hard to fix the problem ahead of the Sprint race with Karthikeyan electing to start from the pitlane rather than from his 21st place on the grid. After avoiding any problems at the first corner, and following several issues for other drivers, Karthikeyan took 15th place at the flag, securing the same position on the grid for the Feature race.

While working on the car in between today's races, the team discovered the engine mountings were fractured and was forced to switch the gearbox, suspension and settings to a back-up A1GP car. With only minutes to spare the team made it on to the track for the Feature race grid only for Team India to become involved in an incident at the first corner. However, Karthikeyan recovered to run ninth when a driveshaft failure ended his race, three laps from the end. With more than a three lap gap to the next car, the team retained ninth place, ahead of A1 Team Pakistan meaning two points were collected despite failing to take the flag.

"It was a disastrous weekend to be honest," Karthikeyan admitted. "A lot of it was out of our control, we were chasing a problem that was very difficult to solve. The engine mountings were broken, and by the time we found out, it was too late to fix our race car, so we had to use a spare instead.

"The spare car didn't feel quite right, it took me a couple of laps to get used to the handling, and it felt underpowered compared to my race car. It turned out to be unreliable as well, when the driveshaft broke just before the end of the race. But the team did a great job to get the car ready for the Feature race and we managed to collect a couple of points."

A1 Team India Seatholder Yohann Setna admitted that it had been one of the those weekends for the team, although he admitted he was proud of how the team had responded.

"I think we've had the worst weekend of anyone here," he said. "Whatever could go wrong , went wrong. We shouldn't have anymore bad luck for the rest of the season! The boys did an absolutely super human job to get the car on the grid for the Feature race. The job was just mammoth. I think there's probably only a few teams in the pit lane that could have got the car ready in time. I'm so proud of the boys and the way Narain coped with all the problems.

"Narain got into trouble in the first corner of the Feature race, through no fault of his own, but managed to keep it out of the wall and I think it was probably his experience that helped him out of that situation. The car was handling very badly, it isn't ideal to go into a race with a spare car. But I think it says a lot about the team and Narain that after such a terrible weekend we can still come away with two points."

 

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