Arguably the most recognizable Indian race car driver and the man who put India on the map when it comes to F1 racing, Narain Karthikeyan, spoke to Team ICB’s Managing Ed, Jay Prashanth, on the sidelines of his second Auto GP race at a street circuit in Marrakech. Here are the edited excerpts from the free wheeling chat that covered stuff from Narain’s career in F1 to his efforts to promote motorsport in India. Here we go,
Team ICB: First of all, we’re pleased to know that you’re back in a race car through the Auto GP World Series. So, congratulations on that.
Team ICB: How’s life been post F1 and the HRT experience? Do you have plans of making a comeback into F1?
Narain Karthikeyan: Never say never, but it was a big shock for us, when the team folded up. It was too late in the day to find anything else, obviously. Especially, as times are difficult.
Team ICB: Could you tell us more about the Auto GP World Series, as this series is not yet well-known in India, but your participation will boost interest in it?
Narain Karthikeyan: This is obviously a powerful single-seater-series, similarly based to the GP2 Series. Basically, I am doing it to keep racing, be sharp, stay fit. Racing means happiness, it feels good to battle wheel-to-wheel at the front. I wish, I can keep well and pushing.
Team ICB: Since you have now driven for Zele Racing in two opening rounds of the 2013 Auto GP season (Monza & Morocco), are you planning to stay for the rest of it?
Narain Karthikeyan: Well, the plan is to do more races obviously, but nothing is confirmed right now. We still have a long way to go, so we will do it on a race-by-race basis for the time being.
Team ICB: We’ve now got a fantastic racing circuit in India, shouldn’t we be hosting more races such as the Auto GP to build interest in motor racing in India?
Narain Karthikeyan: Yes, definitely. I am keen to speak to the track owners to see that we get more top level races in India.
Team ICB: Do you think Indian car makers (such as Tata Motors and Mahindra) should actually participate more in circuit racing in India
Narain Karthikeyan: I can only speak for myself and my sponsors Tata have some interesting plans in motor racing in the national racing scene, but they have yet to be finalized.
Team ICB: Motor racing is considered to be a rich man’s sport. Well it actually is, for most parts. What’s your advice to the racing hopefuls in India, especially in terms of managing their racing careers?
Narain Karthikeyan: It certainly is an expensive sport, so you need to start off in a small way, like I did. Then hopefully your talent will shine and the scouts pick you. I was at the right place at the right time and Tata have been supporting me for years now. Without them, it would have been impossible for me to be where I am today.
Team ICB: Given your rich experience from F3 to Nascar and F1, India could well need your racing instinct in sports management. So, any ideas on that front?
Narain Karthikeyan: Many Indians know that we started the “Speed NK Racing Academy” in 2006. All the drivers who went there are racing globally today. Thus, I have done my bit for the time being, and in the future, I will try to do more. At the moment, I am very busy myself, so have put the academy project on hold.
Team ICB: Thank you very much for your valuable time Narain. We wish you the best success in the Auto GP season. Have a great race.
Narain Karthikeyan: Thank you.