Tag Archives: F1

Narain Karthikeyan makes history #6thMar2005

Its almost 10 years now since Narain Karthikeyan scorched the tracks at Australian GP in 2005. The season opener had good news for the Indian since Schumi acknowledged him during the Press Conference on Thursday.

I know Narain would have been on cloud nine, why not that was his idol Schumi talking about him. He has always said this about Schumi – He is like red wine and the more the years, the more better he gets. We do hope Schumi gets back to normalcy at this juncture and yes we do know his son Mika is getting into his boots.

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That pic is a memorable one for the reason that an Indian was taking part in the parade for the first time. Back home it did create a lot of expectation for him to win the races. Well it was a well intentioned thought, though from people who didn’t know Narain did all he could with the machine at his disposal.

There was a placard held by a girl in the stands which read “Marry Me Narain”

The qualifying was a classic affair giving Narain the rain master as he is nick named a chance to prove his mettle. He went on to start the grid on 12! A great way to start off the season.

There was a big headline I remember which said, Narain will carry on the big hopes of a billion people, it was true and it indeed was a moment to cherish.

Formula One World Championship

Narain finished a creditable 15th on the grid on the race day 10 years ago at Australia.

That was a start of a roller coaster ride for an Indian in F1. Will get you more on this series.

Before I sign off this one, I should mention the critical part played by the sponsors and especially Mr. Ratan Tata who endorsed Narain’s talent to be a part of this big league. Thanks to TATA Motors, Bharat Petroleum Speed, JK Tyres, and Amaron Batteries.

This is the 2nd part of the series #MyF1years getting you some inside moments during the year.

Senthilkumar aka – Indian F1 fan

My F1 years! #NarainKarthikeyan #F1

Narain Karthikeyan (IND) Jordan has his seat fitting. Jordan Seat Fitting, Jordan HQ, Silverstone, England, 3 February 2005. DIGITAL IMAGE

Narain Karthikeyan (IND) Jordan has his seat fitting.
Jordan Seat Fitting, Jordan HQ, Silverstone, England, 3 February 2005.
DIGITAL IMAGE

Formula One World Championship

Narain with team mate Tiago Monteiro and Trevor Carlin

Dear Friends,

I will be writing about the first F1 years with respect to Narain Karthikeyan. Come Jan 31st it would be 10 years since that announcement that Narain Karthikeyan went on to make history as the First F1 driver from India. In his own words, ‘there are fewer F1 drivers than astronauts on earth’ that was an achievement only he could have earned and deservedly so.

As it was about to sink in, and the pulse racing on how it would all go that year saw a great revival in Indian’s fortunes and some near misses. The Australian GP was one of its kind. I can easily recall that qualifying under the rains and Narain was in his elements and lo the he had Schumi the God on the track in his rear view mirror when he started that first race of the reason.

It was a drive for Narain and an aspiration for a billion people lived that moment when he raced past the chequered flag completing the race. Bringing home the car mattered the most. In a nation that took time to understand the sport and with people looking to Narain to win a race, it was all like they say in a race – eventful year for Narain and Indian motorsports.

It was during the Thursday’s press conference Narain was acknowledged by the Master Schumacher saying ‘I saw him drive’. With a billion aspiration on his shoulder Narain set out to race in one of his life’s unforgettable moments. His close knit family travelled to see the event unfold, the Australian fans waving the Indian flags and it was a sight to watch when he was aboard the car during the parade moments preceding the race on Sunday.

I still remember a poster which said ‘Narain Marry Me!’ from one of the fangirl.

On March 18, 2005, the yellow coloured Jordan No.19 was cynosure of all eyes in India glued to the TV screens and that signature Chakra & tricolour helmet was all we could see in action as he set out to drive the race of his life time. Its no mean achievement to be the first Indian F1 driver. History was made! He finished 15th!

We shall relive all these moments in the series starting now. And you cant forget TATA, Speed by Bharat Petroleum, JK Tyres, Amaron and Raymonds and JCB later joined the party!

Senthilkumar Rajappan

Pics Courtesy: Jordan F1 2005

Cracker of a race in Bahrain – Hamilton finishes on top with Rosberg behind…

What a team win that was!

That was a race that would be remembered for a long time to come. The V6 era has come to stay and the change in attitude of the teams led to what was a redefinition of the wheel to wheel racing at the first night race ever at Bahrain International Circuit. In an incident filled race, where quite a few teams even traded the fastest laps, Lewis finished P1 and Rosberg finished P2.

The qualifying was an anti climax with Lewis not making it on top though it was a 1-2 Mercedes front grid. He made it up in the first corner going ahead of his team mate and maintained the lead till the chequered flag. Not before we were witness to some of the best wheel to wheel racing moments. There were no team orders and it was fun for the fans, ofcourse they had to intervene to just say ‘Bring home both the cars.’ I think that resonated well with all the teams, the Sahara Force India, the Williams and the Redbulls.

The sun had set and it was an evening of sheer magic for the fans watching the show on television. The way the front lead cars battled out for the prized top spot on the podium was an exhilarating experience that was special in a way the team mates took out on each other at every given opportunity and made come backs too. The camaraderie of the sport was in full glare when Lewis and Rosberg were all smiles and Rosberg acknowledged his teammate’s performance, though he did warn Lewis on a tweet that he is going to be back to see how he can be at No.1.

The other team which delighted us to the core was the Sahara Force India, coming in at P3 and P5 and it was a terrific drive by Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg. The pit stops were clean and then the drive super smooth. Wheel to wheel, overtaking and everything you wanted happening around the racetrack.

The RedBull also had a great race considering that the cars started at 10th and 13th and finally finishing at P4 and P6 with Riccardio and Vettel. There were moments when they were struggling a lot and they managed to overtake and get themselves to the best results they could achieve.

Williams also added to the fury of the speed when at the start Massa went off  a dream start and I thought they had some problems and settled for the best places Massa at P7 & Bottas P8. There were spurts of excellent driving in the race by these two men.  The last 2 in the top 10 were taken by Ferrari Alonso and Kimi in that order.

There was a Safety car moment when Maldonado went straight into the Guiterrez and flipping his car over track. Luckily he was unhurt, which actually wiped off the advantage the race leader Hamilton had built up.

But the Mercedes were at their best check the lead of over 24 seconds that splits the top 2 and the rest of the teams. Now this race is gonna be remembered for long for quite some time!

Well, you now know what happens if the teams can just shut and let the drivers race!

Indian F1 fan

Race Results

1. Lewis Hamilton Britain Mercedes-Mercedes 57 laps 1hr 39m 42.743s
2. Nico Rosberg Germany Mercedes-Mercedes +00m 01.0s
3. Sergio Perez Mexico Force India-Mercedes +00m 24.0s
4. Daniel Ricciardo Australia Red Bull-Renault +00m 24.4s
5. Nico Hulkenberg Germany Force India-Mercedes +00m 28.6s
6. Sebastian Vettel Germany Red Bull-Renault +00m 29.8s
7. Felipe Massa Brazil Williams-Mercedes +00m 31.3s
8. Valtteri Bottas Finland Williams-Mercedes +00m 31.8s
9. Fernando Alonso Spain Ferrari-Ferrari +00m 32.5s
10. Kimi Raikkonen Finland Ferrari-Ferrari +00m 33.4s

11. Daniil Kvyat Russia Toro Rosso-Renault +00m 41.3s
12. Romain Grosjean France Lotus-Renault +00m 43.1s
13. Max Chilton Briton Marussia-Ferrari +00m 59.9s
14. Pastor Maldonado Venezuela Lotus-Renault +01m 02.8s
15. Kamui Kobayashi Japan Caterham-Renault +01m 18.3s
Rtd Jenson Button Britain McLaren-Mercedes +2 laps
16. Jules Bianchi France Marussia-Ferrari +3 laps

Rtd Kevin Magnussen Denmark McLaren-Mercedes 40 laps completed
Rtd Esteban Gutierrez Mexico Sauber-Ferrari 39 laps completed
Rtd Marcus Ericsson Sweden Caterham-Renault 33 laps completed
Rtd Jean-Eric Vergne France Toro Rosso-Renault 18 laps completed
Rtd Adrian Sutil Germany Sauber-Ferrari 17 laps completed

Michael Schumacher on Pole!

Well that was the headline that was not to be! Micheal Schumacher the seven time World Champion and the Mercedes Team driver went on to finish on top of the Qualifying Session, except that a 5 place grid penalty was hanging right from the last grand prix and would start 6th tomorrow!

It has been quite a while since the fans and the teams have looked to Schumacher to regain his stronghold, and the time has come today when he went on take the pole. Monaco is one of the trickiest circuit in the calendar and just when people were discussing how other teams were doing the best, Mercedes seems to have got it right this time with two of it drivers in a clash of making it to the top three.

Tomorrow it going to be a great day with the order looking very solid and Webber who is now on pole would not want to miss out on such an opportunity especially at Monaco.

Now will wait and watch how it will unfolds tomorrow and with no margin for error the driver who steers a nice drive can be sure of a lights to flag, and yes will it rain????

R Senthilkumar

My reply to Firstpost.com article on Narain!

Here’s my answer to the article titled So Narain, why are you in Formula One?

Dear Ashish,

I couldn’t stop myself from replying to this, most of the readers have already made their views felt. I am sorry I dont know how much you know F1 or for that matter, the financials and how it all works.

If you know how Narain performed on the A1 GP or even the F3 alongside Button, you would have stopped yourself from continuing to trash.

Yes the 107% rule did forbid the team from participating, but you have to know the reasons behind this. The teams at the top for want of running a few seconds faster on a lap spend almost 10 x the money this lower rung teams spend. They get the best of the R&D to support them while these lower rung teams help the wannabe drivers to test and help themselves establish.

Unfortunately there are only 24 drivers today and to be a part of that it makes it absolutely a great achievement. Look at the grid before you write, 6 champions and a whole lot of veterans and then you got to look at the teams. By your logic teams like Williams and even Renault would have to hang up their boots and look for alternatives.

Sportsmen go through some ups and downs but just because you have been out of a race you dont need to take a stand like this.

I dont understand your logic with respect to Pedro de La Rosa, why do you think Narain is inferior to Pedro? Narain hasnt had the luxury of even having 2 full season under his belt. You would not have known why he had to drop put last time? or he had a chance to drive a Minardi long time back.

Or take the case of Adrian Sutil, where is he now after so long a stint with the Force India now Sahara Force India, chances are Narain could have done a better job, its all in the long drives that you do.

And for all those asking why Narain couldn’t make it better than his team mate, let me tell you probably he is/was only one of the driver who had to drive, do the sponsorship bit and do everything on his own unlike the counterparts he has had in other countries. And sometimes even have to read such articles.

The paddock knows Narain for his drive albeit a wild driver with instincts that are fully of those a race driver. But see how Jenson Button was an unsung hero for over 150 GP starts and now he is celebrated. I am sure none of the British Journos would have derided Button after say just one full season and a part season after long.

The most laughable part you have mentioned is about the advertisement. Unfortunately drivers of the low rung teams dont have the luxury of pocketing the money. Especially when we should raise 5 crore to a million in Indian Rupees, while its just a million for others in the world and it helps if you are in Europe to do a Euro transaction.

Nobody has ever told him he is Micheal Schumacher that is a ROFL statement you have made to make you unworthy of what you are writing. Comparing Schumi’ years of experience and just a season needs some humorous instinct.

As for the tag line, the fastest Indian in the world, it was given by the British Press and I still think no one has taken it away from him at least as of now. If there are people who shall do it then of course he can claim that title to be his but that doesn’t change the facts.

Wrong comparisons does more damage than really making critical insights, please back up with what you are writing. Its easy to key in because you hold a view but also be sure that if its held to a mirror you should be able to stand to it.

It is also a matter of jumping the gun, especially in F1 the cars are never equal and the treatment too is never equal even within a team. WIth such a background it would have made better if you had called for Narain in Sahara Force India than this since its Kingfisher’s advertising expense which runs the team in a way.

And if you think you can win races with HRT then I can see you comparing Maruti 800 and a Honda Civic. Only parameter Maruti wins is the price.

My last request to FP please refrain from these style of reporting or ideations, it does no one any good.

The return of Narain Karthikeyan!

That was a very pleasantly surprising news, when HRT announced the lineup with Pedro De La Rosa and Narain Karthikeyan for the year 2012. I am not going into the specifics of sponsorships especially when even the last year HRT ran with TATA as the main sponsor. A season aborted last year and making a historic appearance during the Indian GP, I remember his exact lines.

Driving in front of the home crowd cheering [me] on is going to be a surreal experience, a once in a lifetime experience and I feel extremely fortunate.

That he could make it irrespective of the competition so hard speaks volume about the confidence in the way he can pull it off. I am not talking about the monetary part, I have had the opportunity to see him at close quarters and let me admit that he has this confidence of pulling it off when people almost have written him off.

I remember even the first season, it was a great debut going by what he has been through, and sponsorship issues which stopped him from racing with the erstwhile Minardi for a couple of races in 2004. It was always his optimistic outlook which saw him in good stead even when the critics wrote him off and that included some of the reporters who were reporting F1 for the first time.

His presence augurs well for F1 in India and most importantly the Indian GP. This will also boost the fortunes of the young drivers especially the likes of Armaan Ebrahim and Aditya Patel and others. Karun ofcourse will be a reserve driver.

In his Q&A on the sidelines of the HRT announcement Narain says F1 is a continued dream…

For me, Formula 1 is a continued dream, it is always ultra-competitive and competing at the pinnacle of the sport is what I love. So I am very happy to have the opportunity to continue living my dream and I have every intention to make the best out of it.

As for the sponsors they will be able to leverage the last year one off sponsorships to a more sustainable year long affair. I am happy to see an Indian on the track who is a cynosure of all eyes in the paddock. In one of my conversations with a F1 driver, he saw Narain as a natural & gifted driver and lets not forget what his team mate at Carlin Motorsports the present day Mc Laren driver Jenson Button had to say. He was in praise of him infact he had beaten Jenson in British F3.

Talking about Carlin Motorsports, I am reminded how close Trevor Carlin was to owning an F1 team and that would have changed Narain’s career in F1 and also the Indian connection would have had far reaching effects. Having said that, lets resign to the fact like what Narain said all’s well that ends well.

With India solidly a part of the F1 calendar we can only hope for the best to happen and wish it had happened a little earlier it would have been far better and more robust Narain with better experience and far better team to contend with.

Lets hope for some real stellar drive from the fastest Indian! This season gives another opportunity for the Indian F1 fan to root for another car apart from the Sahara Force India F1 team.

Now the most important thing which made me blog this post was this part of the Q & A:

Q: How would you define yourself as a driver?

NK: One thing’s for sure – I never give up. I’m here, against all odds and expectations, which wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. I have worked incredibly hard, I believe in my ability and know that I am as quick as anyone else out there.

Here’s wishing him all the best and salutation to his never say die attitude which  has got him back to where he rightfully belongs.

R Senthilkumar

Welcome 2012! Will it be Red Bull’s run this time too?

(Thats Me with Daniel Ricciardio at RBR Speed Street in Delhi!)

I am keeping a promise that I made to myself and this is a beginning of writing about the F1 Teams and the drivers regularly. This year the F1 circus is going to be really huge and we can start imagining that there will be a real contest on the cards. Unless of course that the guys at McLaren and Ferrari don’t take themselves seriously.

The way the seats got filled so early is a good pointer, there are at least a couple of seats undecided as I write this, nevertheless its a heave of sigh for quite a young set of people and of course quite an old set of people – read Pedro La Rosa it is now a settled affair.

The most important point here would be that its is becoming a sort of champions round akin to what we have in our National Racing Championship. All the champions are there when you have Kimi also joining in, it will be fun to watch. I am only sad that Adrian has not been confirmed yet and would be forced to comment if they came together at a corner or if any of them were to be racing together at some point in a race. I wish Webber and Massa also had a chance to be champions so almost half of the grid would be champions.

Now lets see how they stack up, Red Bull  remains the same team, and we should only be looking at their style and they can be a great team in the making, I am talking long term. If one team which has the potential to be a threat to Ferrari fan base in the long run without being in the motorsports business, trust me it could be only Red Bull. Not because I was the official blogger, but you should know the branding that Red Bull is capable of and how they were on top in both the forms of racing today – the circuit and the forests, I mean the racing and the rallying they have been there. They are building a loyal fan base, if you have doubt check out their Facebook page with 25 million likes and almost a million people talking about it.

Just check out this article which underlined how Red Bull has now really become the content and media in a way that they are doing a great job of most importantly selling the energy drink. I have been associated with the brand up close, and some of the branding association and the branding on ground is pretty close to the energy drink literally. Take the case of the Red Bull Racing Cans, the students get to make cars out of Red Bull cans and get to do a race like event with trials, qualifying and the race. For the first time when I watched, I didnt know they had a final with all the cars on the grid! In a way as one participant pointed out you had to control the remote very well and aerodynamics can wait, still it was fun to see the cars going all over and you know how they get stuck in a corner and et all. And there are appeals to the Marshals and Chief stewards after the results are announced.

Then the best one happened when I was with Team Red Bull Racing at Khardung La, running an F1 car at 18,380 feet above MSL to be precise is not everyone’s idea of owning an F1 team. Here’s how they make themselves heard and they are loud about that when they do it.

To top it all they had their Kart Fight this season in India. Its a nice way to be there, and I know for sure what they are capable of, setting the trend as they did a few weeks before the Inaugural GP blazing the road at the India Gate.

Once Yohann Setna in a conversation long ago had said, ‘You wont be surprised if you can see Red Bull on anything that moves, motorsports in particular, and most important they have only one product!’

If you can add up all these, they are slowly building up the momentum to be the franchise that everyone would want to associate with. And you can easily do it with so much of action on the ground and off the ground, at the races, rallies and even in the Himalayas!

On the other hand they have a formidable Young Drivers Program, and that’s getting really into the mode. Daniel Ricciardio who will drive for STR is a Red Bull prodigy in their terminology. You get to be the best under Red Bull.

Now back to the teams, Mc Laren and Ferrari  have so much at stake atleast start pretneding to be guys, and make a match, while 2011 was boring except a couple of races, we need to see some down to the last race happening this year in 2012. Would be interesting to see someone fail me in that aspect.

Button will continue in his form and Lewis will try a resurrection from the bad times he has had on track and his personal life. Fernando and Massa will be watched eagerly by all the F1 fans and that eventually means Ferrari fans at large.

Then there is Mercedes, with Schumi and Nico they are trying hard and probably they were the ones who tried hard last year. Lotus Renault, we can call them with full honours with the other Renault becoming Caterham, will love to see them challenge the guys on top. Will wait to see  how Kimi a part owner too, will play his part and make it happen, we are for sure in for some real fast entertainment. The Iceman is back as an owner/driver at Lotus Renault.

Down the order we have, Force India – Sahara Force India to be honest, only wondering if the Kingfisher’s problem should not rub off on to the team, its been an excellent progress to date for the team. Though I would have loved this team to have an Indian driver in Narain or Karun, I am sceptical of Mallya approving my idea. On that front, I think the erstwhile Lotus Renault did make us look bad when they didnt put Karun in for Indian race giving Mallya a big boost for his idea of Indian drivers not being upto the mark.

Then there is Williams, where are the glorious days Mr. SFW? But I have the highest regards for such an independent team on the grid, lets hope they get some pace and make themselves heard.

Sauber, our Amul’s Brand car if I may call it and then HRT, STR and Marussia to complete the list.

Personally sad to see Sir Richard Branson leave, he is my entrepreneurial hero away from the tech world.

Will write about the teams and the drivers in details in the posts to come.

Till then signing off!

R Senthilkumar

(Indian F1 fan)

Sporting Moments – F1 Indian Inaugural GP

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first Indian Grand Prix had so much in stake for itself. The advertisement or the bad PR of Common Wealth has not been erased from the memory of the public. As the preparations were going on at a racy speed came the Supreme Court order that they move  25% of the ticket sales to a separate bank account till they decided if the sporting event needed a tax cut.

Cut to the party after the successful hosting of the Indian Grand Prix which was attended by the most venerated person Sachin Tendulkar, in a country where Cricket is a religion and God decided to witness the race, it was only fitting that he waived the chequered flag.

One of the most interesting takeaways of this whole exercise is that it has been able to showcase India as a wonderful tourist destination. !ncredible India was bang on as one driver after another went gaga about the Taj, the roads, the food, the pretty Indian women and ofcourse the rickshaw or the tuk-tuk.  Sebastian Vettel has vowed to learn the most important words in Hindi so that he would be able to impress a few charming godess as he put it the next time he is in Delhi.

It opened vistas for a lot of event management people albeit only for the month still it did give rise to hope for better days in the near future. The people who had sold their land in the meanwhile had made a killing and are living a luxurious life thanks to this F1 venture of Jaypee.

The success had its effect and it was not without reason. It was a show case par excellence in terms of private party holding an event of this magnitude. For all of us having to tend to disagree with what government working can be like this event with such mass gathering of over 1 lakh plus apart from the volunteers and the men working around the clock to ensure a great event was like raising hope over something’s that we normally don’t take for granted.

It also underlined that the public private partnerships, thought the government was  not directly involved, can work wonders for the sports. With the unveiling of the track we have already seen Mercedes open a training academy that’s the first here and third after Germany and China. So it would only spur the motorsports fraternity to test waters and make it a global hub.

It was also nice to see two support races in MRF Championship and JK Tyre Asia Series where all the future racers gave a shot to their dreams not withstanding the machinery they had was not that great, but the spirit was there for all to see. The next year the machine will be all the more bigger and better.

It has also opened up the newly christened iSeries on the lines of the IPL, which has already got enough of media attention and has lined up more almost all the franchise as I write this, the reason is very clear – the series has two of its races at Buddh International Circuit.

Also be rest assured that there will be a lot of Karting races happening and you can actually scout for some new venues which will come up in the days to come since that is the basic breeding ground for kids to enter racing early in their life. Force India already ran a One in a Billion in 7 cities and now Red Bull is doing a Kart Fight in 4 cities.

On a large level the economic benefits of this is yet to be realized to its full potential, while the racing weekend can rake in a lot of tourist and makes for a good tourist festival, the motorsports as an industry will only thrive with so many brand getting into the sponsorship arena.

Take the case of Amul, which partnered Sauber for a one off race sponsorship, gives ample scope for the brands to think global starting with such associations. The other brands like Vodafone and Renault already having tasted the success of being a part of F1 circus will increase their spend to better it the next time. But if you ask me the one brand which walked laughing all the way to the branding bank was Airtel. It made a kill with a branding by being the presenting  sponsor – Airtel Indian grand Prix and the rest was history. And I like it when you have two of the most competitive brands in Airtel and Vodafone vying for your  mindspace.

So the race has already got cracking with the calendar for next year. With such economic benefits the brands will only be ready not to miss the ship this time.

Khardung La Chronicles – Day 7

Excellence & winning is never an accident! I saw this in a different vein and this would encapsulate the whole experience for me! I have always seen F1 from a team perspective and it would get into everyone right from the driver to the mechanic to contribute to the team’s success.

This day would be the day of reckoning for the team and forget not this has been a hardwork and a culmination of smart work over the last six months. And as we inch closer to the pinnacle, its becoming more challenging.

The South Pullu experience has taught the team that we need to check the engine as we get closer to the summit. So at every capable distance they stopped the car and check the engine and lo it went to life without any murmur of dissent.

As we were on our way we had a pleasant surprise in Honourable Mr. Omar Abdullah, the chief minister of Jammu & Kashmir. He was kind enough to do a symbolic flag off on the way and later would meet us at the Summit – The Khardung La Pass!

A note about the Chief Minister, a very attractive personality and a very enthusiastic individual he was mesmerized by the machine he saw and took all out effort to familiarize about it from Neel Jani.

So As I stood watching Neel explain his all important Steering wheel, Mr. Abdullah was all eyes and ears to what Neel was saying.

‘It’s a kind of your PSP steering wheel, you have controls and shift paddles here, ( he was showing all the knobs and paddles) but the only thing is if you make a mistake in your PSP there wont be any problem but here in you do a mistake it will be costly!’ said Neel.

That made Mr. Abdullah laugh and he was pleasantly surprised with the fact that Red Bull chose his state for its record feat and went on to say it was sort of unbelievable and incredible to see an F1 car on hilly road in the Kashmir valley!

This is what the Honourable chief Minister  had to say ‘Its great fun! it was an incredible experience. I never thought I would get to see an F1 car attempting to make its way through Khardung La! Hats off to Red Bull Racing for doing this.  All the best!’

The Tourism Minister, and the Director of Tourism were also accompanying him, and not miss his young nephews who were also enjoying the car.

You would also want to remember Neel’s friend and the No.1 driver at Red Bull will seal the Title Championship at Japan today. Just one point separated him from being the youngest 2 time World Champion.

Its always nice to be a part of history when being made, you have years on to keep going back and reminiscence those moments.

Yes I forgot to mention something important, it had snowed all night and the way now was all snow and it was looking pretty white everywhere. Akshar even tried playing snow ball, and Tomaz was shelling his snow ball on all the windscreens whenever we had to stop to a convoy or an upcoming traffic.

Our trucks were well on their way to Khardungla after Neel had done some 15000 plus feet on the car and the roads were getting slippery and the tyres were changed for better.

Just as we were getting near the summit there was a huge traffic jam, no it was not Delhi but this happens when there is a truck or a vehicle trapped on the road and you had to travel all the way down to get spares or even repair the puncture.

Somehow after almost an hour we reached the place, it was so colorful with the stupa in there. There were prayer flags fluttering around thought the temperature was really below zero degrees, we could sense that but in the heat of the moment literally we forgot that we were in minus 12 degree out there.

To tell you more before I conclude this marathon blog, there are several places of interest you should visit once you are on this Khardung La. There is this cafeteria nice one dishing out Maggi and tea to everyone. It is awesome feeling to taste their Maggi at such altitude. The tea would also taste sweet and turn cold if you thought about something for a moment.

There was a souvenir shop and you should buy something for the simple reason you were there. It would have the Khardung La name on it. A super special memorable gift to oneself if you want it.

The camera crew was now buzzing around so too were the Team RBR. They had just checked the car just some 2 kms away to start and they had been positive about it and so the were only looking to clear the logistics around the truck and were waiting to clear the traffic which had gathered as a result of us being there.

It took some time to clear the traffic and make some clean road for the F1 car to be driven by Neel. Meanwhile Neel was also enjoying this time chit chatting with engineers and the crew. He would give in to any request for a picture and be on his wonderful smile.

So the traffic cleared but the winds weren’t happy though, it started snowing, and it was getting cold  all the more. We were there and we didn’t want to be outdone by external factors, so we kept working and the whole team waited with bated breath when the car was started up. It got into full drive mode and Neel went on to drive one of the most memorable drives which will lead him to history as the one who drove the first F1 car atop the highest motorable road in the world at 18380 ft to be precise.

It was a moment to cherish for everyone from Team RBR, the Case productions and ofcourse the Team Red Bull India.

As the car came to a halt, it was celebrations galore with team cheering up Neel on this mission and making it successful, there were hugs around and for me it was one of the high points in life, literally and more so emotionally, its been a great run with F1 in indirect terms with watching races and writing blogs and reaching out, never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I shall report one of the most challenging F1 project ever undertaken from a team as respected as Red Bull and I shall be so close to the making of history.

Now was the time for photo ops, the cameras were on roll and the shutters didn’t stop. The team was estatic, they had made the best of engineering possible to fire the engine at such altitude and also had a formula for the fuel to make it happen.

The ride height being raised was one of the factor I had already talked about, but on the other hand the fuel was 97 octane petrol and a new engine management software took care to manage the fuel mixture the ratio of fuel to air in order to compensate for less oxygen.

Anthony Ward, Head of Brand for Red Bull Racing said, “It is a testament to the engineering crew of Red Bull Racing that we have been able to get a Formula One car running from 11,000 feet, all the way up to the 18,380 feet mark. Logistically too, this project demonstrates Red Bull Racing’s commitment to continually pushing boundaries.”

For Tony Burrows, The Team Head, they had done exceedingly well in a sense they got the car to start without a hitch at that altitude and it was a great day at office for the whole team.

For 27 year old Neel Jani, veteran of drives like Red Bull Racing’s journey to Table Mountain in South Africa, this was an experience he’s unlikely to forget in a hurry. “Of all the places I’ve driven around the world, Khardung La has got to be the most humbling. The Himalayas are as imposing as anything in the world and to become a part of history here will be a cherished memory,” said Jani.

The Red Bull Speed Street Leh project marks another milestone for Red Bull Racing; it joins the team’s other impressive runs, including the Formula Santo Domingo Beach Run and the Canadian Red Bull Frozen One on ice.

As for me it was a culmination of what was a dream come true, not so often do you get your chances of being at the summit, with an F1 car and a team which literally gives you Wings. The Team Red Bull.

Signing off

R Senthilkumar