Whatever the odds, I take the challenge: Karthikeyan (Lead)

May 20th, 2008 - 1:41 pm ICT by admin  

By Narain Karthikeyan
“Gentlemen! For the pride of your nation, please start your engines” — these words resounded in my ears throughout the A1 GP season. As we approached the final race on my favourite circuit Brands Hatch in England, I told myself that I’ve just got to do it! The past season has been very dramatic for Team India and is nothing less than a 360-degree turnaround. I can confidently say that we have achieved what we had set out to accomplish.

The season got off to a shaky start with a disjointed look to the team. Spice Energy coming on board as seat holder brought a lot of stability to the structure and our performance as a team began to improve.

The turning point came at Sepang, Malaysia, where the team garnered good points, followed by the historic victory at Zhuhai (China) to act as the catalyst for the team to become a force to reckon with, enabling us to rub shoulders with other high-profile teams from Switzerland, New Zealand, Britain, Germany and the United States.

This was followed by a slump in the next few races. Problems with the car set-up and lack of data sharing opportunities were the key challenges, which the team overcame to a large extent at Shanghai and finally fine-tuned it to perfection at Brands Hatch.

They say a race driver is as good as his last race and I am happy that we ended the season with a victory. Over this one season and ten races, we have all come together as a team.

I give full credit to each and every team member as key contributors towards my recent success - it is our victory and we share our joy as a family! Racing buffs have recognised us as a credible team putting our hearts out to win for India - competing against the best in the world and shining through.

I am often asked to compare A1 to F1 and how my involvement with Team India will impact my aspirations to get back to F1. In all fairness, I don’t think the two formats can really be compared.

Also, my commitment to A1 and my aspiration to driving in F1 don’t really clash. While F1 is historically the undisputed pinnacle of motor sport; I think A1 GP has had a unprecedented rate of growth in popularity and viewership in a very short span of time. This is simply because it is fun to watch! You don’t need to be a motor racing fan to follow the race and cheer for Team India to win.

Hence I feel A1 GP is a form of motor sport which has the potential to draw mass appeal due to its patriotic flavour.

Despite well-appreciated adulation, I still get a fair share of critical comments regarding my age and F1 plans. I think over the years I have learnt to not only take this in my stride, but actually further motivate myself to yet again silence the critics.

I am fitter than ever before, have gained very rich experience and definitely have it in me to continue to establish further milestones for my country in the world of motor sports. Whatever the odds may be, I am determined to succeed. Bring it on!

(Narain Karthikeyan is India’s first Formula 1 driver. He can be reached at narainracing@gmail.com)

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