India's first F1 driver Narain Karthikeyan says his bitter experience with A1GP has left him wiser which is why he's not too keen on being part of the i1 Super Series
Though some prominent names like Giancarlo Fisichella and Jacques Villeneuve are part of the inaugural franchise-based i1 Super Series that gets underway next year, considering it's also nicknamed the Indian Racing League, one prominent name conspicuous by its absence is that of India's first Formula One driver Narain Karthikeyan.
In the fast lane: Indian F1 driver Narain Karthikeyan. Pic/Getty Images
At the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi today, the i1 Super Series will unveil its drivers, both international and local, set to represent the Indian city-based teams. While even Karun Chandhok -- India's second F1 driver, former F1 driver Vitantonio Liuzzi and young Indian driver Armaan Ebrahim are set to be part of the multi-million dollar event, Karthikeyan told MiD DAY that he's not sure if the event suits someone like him.
"I'm not part of the i1 Super Series. The Chennai franchise did approach me and following negotiations, as things currently stand, the ball is in their court," Karthikeyan told MiD DAY from Chennai yesterday.
The Hispania Racing Team F1 driver said that though i1 looks to be a great concept, he's not too sure of its sustainability. "I've already burnt my hands with the now defunct A1GP. I was promised a lot in terms of prize money and even appearance fees, but in the end that didn't happen.
So, I'm a little cautious this time round," added the 34-year-old, who made his F1 debut for Jordan in 2005, following which he was a test driver with Williams in 2006-07, before making a comeback with HRT for the 2011 season. Karthikeyan was part of the A1GP -- a racing series that saw drivers representing their home countries in races across the world. However, the event came to an abrupt end in 2009 after which its creditors (including Ferrari) took over its assets.
However, Karthikeyan felt i1 is good for young Indian drivers. "i1 is great for youngsters. I believe they are paying all their drivers, so that makes it a great start for any young Indian driver looking to make a living out of it. Simply put, i1 is good because something like this has never happened to Indian motorsport before. It's definitely better than having nothing at all."
As for i1's applicability to himself, he remained uncertain though. "I don't see it making any difference to me at this stage. I'm not sure whether it fits my objective. In the end, it's got to be worthwhile doing. So, if I am to be part of i1, it will only be for commercial reasons. Besides, it's now postponed to the last week of January next year (from Dec 2011), so that's a problem for me too," Karthikeyan signed off.
Everything about i1 Super Series
i1 Super Series is a racing series comprising nine city-based franchise teams -- Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chandigarh, Pune, Kolkata, Goa --each comprising of two drivers, one international and one Indian, set to be flagged-off on Jan 22 at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia. i1, comprising five rounds of two races each at Sepang (Jan 22), Bahrain (Feb 4), Qatar (Feb 11), Delhi (Feb 26) and Abu Dhabi (March 10), offers a prize-money of $2 million.