“I’m perfectly satisfied with the way things are going,” Narain Karthikeyan said to HT on the eve of this year’s Canadian GP. The assertion came after doubts were raised about his comeback to F1 this year that had seen him outqualified by HRT teammate Vitantonio Liuzzi in every race of the season and outpaced in race conditions too.
In his defence, he wasn’t being outqualified by much and at least he would get to be on the grid for the inaugural Indian GP. As it turns out, Narain should have been keeping an eye on the HRT management rather than on his fellow employee. Karthikeyan had to give up his seat to Aussie Daniel Ricciardo at Silverstone and assume the role of a reserve driver.
The assumption that HRT, and F1 in general, can ill-afford to pass on the publicity potential of an Indian driver at the Indian Grand Prix is all his most loyal supporters are left with.
The problem is compounded with Karun Chandhok’s potential participation in the event. Chandhok didn’t exactly cover himself with glory as Team Lotus’ reserve driver in the season opening race in Melbourne when he crashed the car at the very first corner of the very first lap of the opening practice session. More practice session outings followed before he was given a chance to race in Germany.
Chandhok did himself no favours, however, by spinning twice and finishing four laps behind the leader and one full lap behind rookie Ricciardo’s HRT. With just three months to go for the Indian GP, Karthikeyan and Chandhok may just have to settle for symbolism by representing India, even if it is towards the back of the grid.