With less than two weeks to go for the start of the Formula One season, HT caught up with India's first F1 driver Narain Karthikeyan as he prepares for his F1 comeback with HRT. Excerpts:
You could have been making money in NASCAR truck racing but you are back in F1 where you will
have to spend a lot of money again. How do you feel about that?
It is true that all the money I made while racing in NASCAR I have already spent this season, but I didn't want to pass up on an F1 return because I didn't want to spend the rest of my life thinking 'what if'?
It's been six years since your F1 debut. You made it with a team that was on the downward trend then, now you are with a small team trying to make its way up the grid...
It feels good to be back. I am with a team that has a decent car that has not been driven yet, so I can't predict how the season will go. Australia won't tell the complete story as it is a simple track. Unlike Sepang for example, which will be a real indication.
How do you feel about being at Hispania Racing given all their troubles?
All I can say is that there are a lot of clever people here. Geoff Willis is a capable designer. A lot depends on what kind of car we get during the year. I am confident of the packages that we have in the pipeline.
How do you feel about the 107% rule being re-introduced this year? Had it been used last year, for example, the team wouldn't have qualified for a few races.
This year there will be less down force as we won't have a double diffuser, so the car will be faster in a straight line. And based on the 107% rule, we have to be within 5.8 seconds of the pole time in Melbourne, which I think we are pretty capable of doing.
Your short-term goal was to get back on the F1 grid. What's further down the line?
Given the resources, the team has a good chance of making it up the grid, so I don't see why my long-term future couldn't be with them. I want to grow with the team.