Indian GP showing swung it for me
Narain Karthikeyan explains how his performance in the home race last year helped him retain his slot on the F1 grid.india Updated: Feb 03, 2012 23:50 IST
The Indian GP has changed the way India looked at motorsport. It has drummed up unbelievable levels of fascination and excitement among motorsport enthusiasts, media and the corporate world. I guess I can reveal this now since it's of little consequence, that in the weeks following the Indian GP, some Indian investors were determined to acquire a majority stake in a Formula 1 team with two Indian drivers in it.
The plan, however, didn't come to fruition, but I knew where I wanted to be --- F1 was my only focus following that eventful weekend.
And understandably so, as you may recall that during the Indian GP, I was paired up with Daniel Ricciardo --- a young and highly rated driver --- and I was on an even footing with him throughout. It gave me a newfound confidence in my ability, and that is when I knew I still had business here.
It immediately became apparent how difficult it was to stay in F1, but I never considered other alternatives. I ensured that I was physically and mentally ready for any opportunity and trained as hard as I possibly could. Obviously, there were a lot of discussions, long hours on flights and at airports, hotel stays and so on.
Rolling the dice
With several drivers vying for a handful of seats, there was no telling how the dice would roll --- in fact, there were five drivers in contention for the HRT seat since the 2011 season ended. Ultimately, my performance at the Indian GP coupled with the support of my backers, Tata Motors --- who provided me technical help, CFD (computational fluid dynamics) facilities and other R&D support --- assisted me in sealing the deal.
I am happy that the new management in HRT believed in me and gave me this opportunity, and I have every intention to make the best of it.
This year will be unique for me in another sense --- for the first time in my F1 career, I will be driving for the same team for the second consecutive season. There are a lot of new personnel this year, though, and even the hierarchy is different. But, from where I see it, it is set to have a positive influence on the entire operation.
The team has some very experienced people onboard now, like the new team principal, Luis Pérez-Sala, and my teammate Pedro de la Rosa. Saul Ruiz de Marco, (HRT F1 CEO), has a very good approach to what F1 should be.
However, we all know it's impossible to change things in F1 overnight, but we are certainly taking strides in the right direction.
I remember Pedro from my first F1 test with the Jaguar team in 2001 --- he was the team driver then. Even though I don't know him very well, I know that he's very experienced and has a pleasant personality. We should get along well --- it's not about trying to beat each other but working harmoniously to help the team progress.
That is all I have to say for now. I am eagerly waiting to jump in the new car at the pre-season winter tests, unlike the last season when I first drove the new car on the opening race weekend in Australia. So, things are looking good and there is enough incentive and motivation for me to push as hard as I can from the word go.
Wish me luck!