With new regulations governing Formula One this season, four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel could well be dethroned by Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton, says India's India's first F1 driver Narain Karthikeyan.
India's first F1 driver Narain Karthikeyan during a press conference at a city hotel yesterday. Pic/Bipin Kokate
"This will be a tough year for everyone. There are many good drivers on the grid but Hamilton looks good. Mercedes is ahead of everyone else this season and they will try to maintain that advantage (Mercedes are second on the table with 25 points).
Their rivals will try to close that gap but I don't think they can beat them. They have two strong drivers, so as a package, they are going to be very hard to beat," Karthikeyan told reporters yesterday.
While many F1 drivers are still coming to terms with the new regulations, Karthikeyan, who raced for three seasons in F1, is already a fan. "This has been quite an interesting season, quite different but interesting to watch on TV," added Karthikeyan, who is all set to compete in Japan's Super Formula series that begins on April 13.
"The cars at Super Formula are as fast as they get. In fact, with F1 cars slowing down a bit this season, the race pace of Super Formula cars will be almost at par with F1 cars," said the 37-year-old, who is sponsored by Tata Group.
"In Super Formula, all the cars are almost equal (as opposed to F1). So what matters is how good a driver your are. But the cars are very physically demanding — they produce around 4-5 Gs (a physical force equivalent to a unit of gravity that is multiplied during rapid changes of direction or velocity) at corners.
I'm already quite slim but even I have been asked to reduce three kgs. It's going to be tough. It will be challenging to learn the new circuits. We only get a one-hour practice session on Saturday and then we head to qualifying. So, understanding the tracks will be the biggest challenge," Karthikeyan said.