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Karthikeyan slams Vettel, calls him 'unprofessional'

Indian feels the world champ is frustrated with difficult start to the season and is looking for excuses. Vinayak Pande reports. The official version | How it happened

india Updated: Mar 28, 2012 02:00 IST
Vinayak Pande
Vinayak Pande
Hindustan Times
Vinayak Pande,Sebastian Vettel,Formula One

"For a world champion to say things like that is really shameful," Narain Karthikeyan told HT. "It is really unprofessional. For a driver who has achieved so much to take out his frustrations on me just because he is having a difficult year is really sad. One does not expect a professional sportsman to be such a crybaby."

What's got India's first Formula One driver speaking so frankly is this comment from defending double world champion Sebastian Vettel; "Just like on the normal roads you have some idiots driving around, it seems like there is also one driving here."

Vettel's comments came in the wake of an incident on lap 47 of the 56-lap Malaysian Grand Prix, where the German punctured his Red Bull's left rear tyre after clipping the front wing of Karthikeyan's HRT. After dropping from fourth to eventually finish 11th, Vettel vented his frustrations on live television while speaking to the BBC. He didn't mention Karthikeyan by name, but it was very apparent who Vettel was referring to.

Karthikeyan found an unlikely supporter in Vettel's compatriot and Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg, who had seen a replay of the incident. "I've seen the incident," Hulkenberg told reporters at a promo event at the Buddh International Circuit. "It wasn't Narain's fault."

Karthikeyan, whose car suffered massive wheelspin on the still wet kerbs just as Vettel came up to lap him, made it clear that he couldn't have left any more room for Vettel to go past. Vettel also made a slight move to the left where Karthikeyan's car was placed following the exit of turn eight.

Karthikeyan made this abundantly clear when he was summoned by the FIA stewards and was disappointed that his side of the story fell on seemingly deaf ears.

"They didn't care about what I had to say because Mr Vettel told them god knows what when he went and talked to them," said Karthikeyan.

Getting support
Former 13-time Grand Prix winner, Red Bull driver and current BBC television pundit David Coulthard has also gone on record as calling the incident a racing incident where neither driver was at fault. Coulthard, in fact, even alluded to an incident when Vettel and Mark Webber were involved in an accident in the 2010 Turkish GP where Vettel was seen as weaving to the left as he tried to defend his position against the Australian.

Karthikeyan stopped short of blaming Vettel for the incident, calling it a racing incident in which neither driver was at fault. Karthikeyan was having a good race, running as high as 10th place, when the race was red flagged on lap eight due to atrocious weather conditions. His advantage lay in having started on full wet tyres while the majority of the drivers on the grid were on intermediates.

The official version | How it happened

First Published: Mar 28, 2012 00:25 IST