Narain Hopeful Of Return To Formula One

Anand Philar/IANS

Chennai, Aug 4: Although 32, Narain Karthikeyan believes he still has a chance of returning to Formula One, especially next year when two more teams will be added to the grid, thus creating a few vacancies.

"I am still young and I believe I have a couple of more years to make it (back to Formula 1) again. My managers are obviously looking for opportunities. There are more seats available next year. That is all I can say at the moment," Karthikeyan told IANS Tuesday on the sidelines of Autocar India's test session at the Sriperumbudur track near here.

When asked whether he was in negotiations with any F1 team for next season, Karthikeyan said: "I am not directly, but hopefully through my managers."

Karthikeyan's Formula 1 career came to an abrupt end after just one season, in 2005, when he drove for Jordan where he had to deal with a decidedly slow car, but finished on points at Indy where only six cars were running following a boycott by other teams on grounds of safety.

Since then, the Coimbatore-born racer, known for his raw speed, has been on the fringes of Formula One with stints in various other single-seater championships, notably the A1 Grand Prix where he represented Team India, but with little success.

If anything, his A1 experience has been more a nightmare than sunshine, especially last season. "We had no budgets and we did not get the Ferrari engine at the beginning of the season. So went in without testing and it showed. At times, we were in awkward situations having to borrow parts from other teams. But we hope to regroup and attack," he said.

This year, however, Karthikeyan realized one of his dreams when he took up an offer from Kolles Audi team to drive in the Le Mans Series endurance races, driving top of the shelf R10 Tdi which basically is a prototype sports car.

"I grew up watching the Le Mans movie in which Steve McQueen acted with Porsches and Ferraris battling. As a kid, I was inspired by the movie. Although the opportunity came late in my career that was something I always wanted to do. I took it up when Kolles Audi team offered the entire series of five races (Spain, Belgium, Portugal, Germany and Britain)," he said.

Speaking of his experience in the Le Mans Series, Karthikeyan said: "These are basically endurance races. You cannot attack every lap. There are a lot of other categories like GT-1 and GT-2 cars that are much slower. The traffic management has to be quick, but not over aggressive or they will take you out."

On the impact of Le Mans Series on his racing career, he said: "I am an open wheel racer. That is my passion. However, the Audi is like a Formula One car. It has all the banned elements like traction control and other electronic bits. So, it's a lot easier machine to drive."

Looking ahead, Karthikeyan said he has a "lot of plans" but they did not include driving in any of the North American series, something he had contemplated a few years ago.

"There is a recession on in the US and so, the budgets are low. I have no plans of driving in the US as I have the Le Mans Series and A1 GP to do, besides hoping to get back to Formula One," he said.


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