Hispania's Narain Karthikeyan looking to finish with points on home soil at the Indian Grand Prix next month
Even as Narain Karthikeyan prepares to step into his Hispania Racing Team car for this weekend's Singapore Formula One Grand Prix, there's an October date that he just can't get out of his mind. Come October 30 and India will make Formula One history by hosting the first ever race at the Buddh International Circuit in New Delhi.
And aptly, it will be India's first F1 driver who will be the country's flag-bearer for the mega event. Obviously, Karthikeyan is nervous, excited but most importantly, very proud about what he has set out to do. In an interview with MiD DAY, he spoke of his emotions and expectations from the Indian GP. Excerpts:
Driving in the dark: Hispania's Narain Karthikeyan drives across the
Sepang Circuit during the Malaysian GP earlier this year. pics/Getty
Being India's flag-bearer in New Delhi, you are going to be looked upon as a hero by the crowd. Will that be added pressure?
As an Indian, I can't wait to drive here and I'd be lying if I said that it would be like racing anywhere else. There will be added pressure to perform, but along with support of the crowd which will be a huge motivating factor. With 100,000 people cheering me on here, I'm sure it will be worth some lap time! But the objective is the same � pushing the envelope performance-wise.
What are your thoughts on the brand new Buddh International Circuit that features an ascent and a good straight?
I've driven on the circuit. I believe we will have some fantastic racing on it. The artificially-induced elevation has made the layout extremely challenging. Also, it is the first circuit to conform to the latest set of FIA guidelines that promote overtaking. This is achieved by varying the width of the track at different places to allow more cars to get side-by-side and encourage wheel-to-wheel battles. The straight is 1.2-km long and is followed by a tricky right hander which should again see drivers trying to outbrake each other there.
Overall, it should make for an intriguing race.
But shouldn't the track have had more of a flatter nature for cars to clock some really quick times?
No, because there's no point in making a fast track that is dull to drive on and has little scope for overtaking. The best tracks in the world are the ones that are challenging to drive on with a variety of corners, like Spa and Silverstone. Even Monaco, despite boasting the lowest average circuit speed, is considered one of the most challenging. There's no point in clocking quick times if all the drivers have to do is hold the wheel straight and nail the throttle. But despite the Buddh circuit featuring elevation changes and a variety of corners, it is still going be one of the quickest tracks, average speed-wise on the calendar.
What are your expectations from the Indian GP?
Ever since I made my way to F1, I've dreamt of this but never thought it would be a reality so soon. It's barely a month away now and I'm still finding it hard to believe that F1 is at our doorstep. Indian sponsors will hopefully realise the value of investing in motorsport looking at the visibility enjoyed by brands involved. I hope the event's emphatic success will have a positive rub-off and help me secure a drive next year too.
What would be your ideal result at the Indian GP?
Well, there's the ideal and then there's the realistic. I'd say realistically it would be great to finish ahead of the other new teams. Ideally we'd like a points' finish but barring something bizarre, it will be a tall order.
What's your take on Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel's dominance this season? Does this give emphasise that F1 is now more about machine than man?
It is all down to teamwork and Red Bull have risen to the challenge despite competition at the helm being made up of legendary teams like Ferrari and McLaren. Winning an F1 championship is the result of a good combination of a driver and car. Vettel undoubtedly has the best machinery, but he's driven better than ever... even surpassing his last title season.