New Delhi: Narain Karthikeyan, the first Indian to try his hand at big time motor racing, insists his future is hitched to Formula One -- and HRT at that. Ruminating on another tough season, the eternal optimist hopes for his best finish of the year at the second edition of the Indian grand Prix over the weekend.
The season has been a mixed bag for the 35-year-old industrialist from Coimbatore. The start, much like 2011, was a forgettable one with both HRTs failing to qualify for the Australian Grand Prix. Since then, he has six retirements and the best performance coming at the Monaco street circuit where he finished 15th.
Karthikeyan, however, does not want to delve too much into the past. For the present, he is only thinking about the Oct 26-28 event at Buddh International Circuit (BIC). He also knows that being part of a small team, he can't make a big splash in his home race.
"It is obviously a special feeling to be racing at the Buddh Circuit again. Since I can't think of podiums and points under the current scenario, the aim is to do better than last year and give the fans something to cheer about," Karthikeyan told IANS, referring to his 17th place in the inaugural Indian Grand Prix.
"We are getting a new rear wing besides the new floor which was damaged in Japan. It should help us in gaining a few tenths."
Talking about his own performance in 2012, he says: "I think I have been driving well and out-qualifying a senior pro like Pedro de la Rosa on a couple of occasions has given me immense confidence. I am fit and good enough to be in F1 for another two-three seasons."
He is fully committed to remaining in F1 for the third straight year and most likely with the same team.
"I don't know where these rumours of me switching to Indycar emanated from. The brightest thing for 2013 will be another season with HRT. I would love to be with a mid-field team, but those chances look remote in this fiercely competitive F1 environment. I know I will not be in the points contentions but as of now just the adrenaline rush of driving an F1 car is good enough for me to go on," said Karthikeyan, who made his F1 debut with the Jordan team in 2005 before returning to the sport last year.
Asked about his experience with Jordan and HRT, Karthikeyan says: "In 2005, we were a lot more competitive. We could be 11th fastest in qualifying which is not happening at present. The technology has evolved since then but other things are more or less the same."
F1 is known for cut-throat competition but it is another world for the teams on the back of the grid. It is something Karthikeyan lives with everyday.
"No one likes to be at the back and so is the case with me. If I have to pick the toughest moment in my F1 career, it has to be the time when I was suddenly replaced by Daniel Ricciardo during the 2011 season," said Karthikeyan talking about 2011 when HRT dropped him after the first eight races only to get him back for the India round.