Karthikeyan qualifies eighth at Fuji Speedway

Oyama (Japan), May 18 (IANS): The second round of the 2014 Super Formula season saw Indian driver Narain Karthikeyan qualify in eighth position despite a myriad problems at the Fuji Speedway here Saturday.

Making his debut at the iconic venue which hosted the first-ever Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix in 1976, the Team Lenovo Impul driver managed to post a lap time good enough for a fourth row start, six-tenths of a second (0.681) slower than eventual pole-sitter André Lotterer.

“It has been a difficult weekend compared to Suzuka last time around,” said Narain referring to the opening round last month where he had qualified on the front row.

“There are a few things we are still working on the setup. This is our first time here and the conditions and circuit characteristics are completely different from Suzuka.”

Karthikeyan had an opportunity to test the Dallara SF14 here in January but the ambient temperatures being over 20 degrees colder compared to this race weekend, had an immense effect on the aerodynamics of the car.

“Colder air is much denser. So you feel the effect of aerodynamics more in terms of stability. But increase the temperature by 20 degrees and you end up with a lot less downforce even if mechanically everything is the same,” explained Narain.

“Most other drivers on the grid have plenty of experience here so they were sort of expecting it. But I was really blown away by how much the car was moving around compared to the last time I had driven here.”

An engine problem in the second practice session also forced Narain into the garage, losing over 20 minutes of running. “When you’re trying to play catch-up, losing track time is the last thing you want. So it definitely hasn’t been easy so far.”

However, with a few adjustments, the car should pay off in the two races Sunday -- first being a 25 lap sprint race and the second being a 35 lap affair with a pitstop for tyres and fuel.

“If you can overtake on any circuit, this is it. So, hopefully we’ll able to carve up our way through the grid tomorrow, make up some places and come away with some good points,” concluded Karthikeyan.

The completely revamped Super Formula series (formerly known as Formula Nippon) has switched to a new Dallara SF14 chassis this year powered by two-litre, 550 bhp turbocharged engines, similar to the new F1 regulations.


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