Narain Karthikeyan led Team India to the country’s first ever victory in the A1 Grand Prix by winning the feature race in Zhuhai, China, on Sunday.
Karthikeyan staved off a tough challenge from Team New Zealand and cleared the finish line just about a second before his nearest rival. Though the win gives India 19 points, the team, with a total of 27 points, is not among the top contenders.
Karthikeyan has had several setbacks recently starting with losing his position as a test driver with the Williams Formula One (F1) team and struggling at the A1 circuit with mechanical problems in the qualifying races.
“We weren’t doing well in the qualifying. So we changed the qualifying set up for this race. I am glad it helped,” Karthikeyan told HT.
India started third in the feature race but New Zealand used two power boosts — a special facility that allows drivers to gain an extra 30bhp speed for a few seconds — in the last four or five laps. This reduced the gap to 6/10th of a second between the two teams. Karthikeyan then used the last power boost during the penultimate lap to seal the matter.
“In the last 20 laps or so, Team India were constantly challenged by New Zealand. We were ahead by just about a second,” said team captain Yohann Setna. The win is likely to revive Karthikeyan’s chances of re-entering F1.