In a sport touted to be the survival of the fastest, Narain Karthikeyan and Hispania Racing Team (HRT) are, for now, happy to be surviving surviving.
With Formula One's experiment with the 40 million pound budget cap failing to stick, Karthikeyan believes, the bigger teams will continue to flex the financial muscle. "Survival is a hard thing," Karthikeyan told HT on Wednesday.
Making his return to F1 this season after five years , the 34-year-old Indian said, "It's a small team. We have put together a pretty little car. The major difference against the bigger teams would be that we don't use KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems)."
"We didn't get any mileage on the cars in the winter testing, so since then we were basically playing catch up. But it's coming together for us now. If we keep making the upgrades I am sure we will have a good car for the Indian GP (in October)."
In his years away from F1, Karthikeyan competed in the A1 Grand Prix, the Le Mans series and even NASCAR in America. The atmosphere at the NASCAR venues, he says, is something else. But so is the lure of F1. "We are all a part of the show." The glamour of F1 apart, the speed of those expertly tuned machines is addictive.
"The fact is we (HRT or the lower-tier teams) are never in contention for the title. But teams like these are equally important for F1. They provide the platform for younger drivers and for drivers like me who are coming back. There's this hierarchy in every sport, but it only makes it more interesting."
Red Bull driver Mark Webber, an F1 veteran at 34 and having missed out on the championship last year, asked a relevant question, "If you're not world champion are you a failure?" Karthikeyan, HRT and a bunch of survivors on the F1 grid spend every day answering that.