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.

Unlike many European drivers moving into US motor sports, Karthikeyan has the advantage of some oval racing experience courtesy of eight races in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series that took place in 2010 before his HRT stint, although the world of stock car racing doesn't seem to currently appeal to the 36-year-old as a full-time option.

Bruno Senna, on the other hand, is actively looking at the possibility of a switch to NASCAR if he decides to move away from Aston Martin's endurance racing program.

"Continuing with Aston Martin is one of the best options I have," Senna told the O Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper. "But I also want to see if I can test in NASCAR. It was already supposed to happen at the beginning of the year."

The various NASCAR championships have already featured a number of former F1 talents including Juan Pablo Montoya, Nelson Piquet Jr. and Jacques Villeneuve. Kimi Raikkonen ran a limited number of races in 2011 while on sabbatical from Grand Prix racing before his eventual return to F1 with Lotus; and last year, Lewis Hamilton sampled NASCAR champion Tony Stewart's title-winning car at Watkins Glen, while Stewart himself got to drive Hamilton's McLaren-Mercedes.

"I am going to have some meetings to see what is the best way forward. I also have options for Indy, stock and NASCAR," he said, hinting that another option might be to join former Ferrari driver Rubens Barrichello in the Brazilian stock car championship.

Barrichello drove for a season in IndyCar in 2012 after departing from F1, and this weekend will return to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for a one-off GRAND-AM race appearance.

But for the time being, Senna is happy in sportscar racing, pointing out that the "atmosphere is much more relaxed and friendly. In F1, everyone wants to kill everyone else." However, the death of fellow Aston Martin driver Allan Simonsen at the start of this year's Le Mans race had been a sobering reminder of the perils of the sport.

"The category is dangerous, but we all know the risks we are taking," he said. "Racing there [at Le Mans] is one of the biggest risks you can take."



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