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.