It's been a few years since India's first Formula One driver Narain Karthikeyan may have steered away from the fastest version of motorsport, but he's still in touch with the goings on nevertheless.
Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton drives at the picturesque Monaco street circuit during qualifying for Sunday's Monaco GP in Monte Carlo on Saturday. Pic/AFP
Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton's dominant form (top of the drivers standings with 100 pts having won four of the five races this far) has not missed Karthikeyan's eye. "Lewis is an awesome driver. He's on a roll. It may be a bit to early to say this, but I believe this Championship is his.
He's been so dominant. Statements from him claiming he wants to dominate his teammate (Nico Rosberg, currently in second spot with 97 pts), go to show he is very confident of what he can achieve," Karthikeyan told mid-day on the sidelines of a promotional event to strengthen his association with the Tata Group, at the Kari Motor Speedway in Coimbatore on Thursday.
Aptly, Hamilton clocked the fastest lap in Thursday's rain-hit practice for Sunday's Monaco Grand Prix, despite having overslept and woken up by two team members banging his door in the morning. In Friday's final practice too he was fastest.
Then, in Saturday's qualifying, he lost out to teammate Nico, but only in controversial circumstances. Karthikeyan, said Hamilton owed his success to his team Mercedes (197 points already this season), who have made world champions Red Bull seem non-existent.
"Mercedes have turned the corner by producing an extremely quick machine, coupled with extremely quick drivers. They have sorted out the reliability issue.
They have the package and Red Bull doesn't. Suddenly (four-time world champion) Sebastian Vettel is nowhere and his teammate Daniel Ricciardo is beating him (Ricciardo qualified third while Vettel will start fourth for Sunday's Monaco GP).
That's because Ricciardo has shown the ability to adapt to the car better than Vettel, who has been used to having very good cars. Problems like this maybe unknown to Vettel, so he doesn't know to deal with it," explained Karthikeyan, who recently finished sixth at the Suzuka Circuit in the 2nd round of the Super Formula Series, which is technically closest to F1.
Force India to the four
Mercedes have benefited Force India too, felt Karthikeyan. "Force India began the season well and are fourth now (57 pts, behind Ferrari on 66 pts) thanks to their Mercedes engines.
They struggled a bit in Barcelona and Monaco is always tough (Force India drivers Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenburg qualified 10th & 11th respectively on Saturday), but they can hold on fourth spot, which is great," he said.
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