Narain Karthikeyan takes final F1 seat at HRT

2012 F1 season

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Narain Karthikeyan, HRT, Buddh International Circuit, 2011

Narain Karthikeyan will return to F1 with HRT in 2012, the team has confirmed.

Karthikeyan started eight races for HRT last year before being replaced by Daniel Ricciardo. He made a one-off return to the team at the Indian Grand Prix.

HRT previously announced their other driver for 2012 will be Pedro de la Rosa.

Karthikeyan said: “It has taken a lot of hard work to make this happen but I am absolutely elated to feature on the 2012 grid with HRT F1 Team.

“I was pleased with our strong performance at the Indian Grand Prix, in front of my passionate home fans and I look forward to building on this result in 2012. I have been training hard since the end of 2011, ensuring I was ready for the rigours of F1 if an opportunity arose. I am delighted to have signed with HRT F1 Team. With the new management, Pedro, and the team, there is definite potential for progress.

“We need to understand that F1 is new to India, we hosted our first race only last year which was a resounding success. To build on that momentum, an Indian driver will certainly keep the interest engaged throughout the season. I am proud to secure an opportunity to forge a stronger connection between India and Formula 1 once again.”

HRT team principal Luiz Perez-Sala added: “I am pleased to count with Narain for this season, as he will contribute continuity and stability. He is a quick, intuitive and secure driver who met his expectations despite a lack of continuity last year.

“Of the eight Grands Prix he contested in 2011, he only failed to finish on one occasion and had a great performance in the last race he took part in. I’m sure that the fact that he will continue to work and drive on a regular basis will help him take a step forward this season. And if he advances, so does the team. This is a year in which you could say that the team starts from scratch and everyone’s input will be fundamental.”

Karthikeyan’s signing completes this year’s driver line-up. Here’s the full list of 2012 F1 drivers and teams.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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91 comments on “Narain Karthikeyan takes final F1 seat at HRT”

  1. Is this more surprising this time around because we now know for sure that he’s… well… not a rising star (to be kind)

    They already have de la Rosa, wouldn’t they want a younger driver with more potential?

    1. @thezadak How do you know he’s not a late bloomer? :P

      I don’t think he is either, but I can’t prove he isn’t :P

      1. @Zadak . Why they need a Young Crush potential kid drivers? They want a results not repairs. So costly.. :)

    2. Not surprising to me i predicted he’d be back somewhere after brazil last year. *smug*

  2. This means that HRT has the oldest driver pair on the grid. Pedro is 40 and Narain 35 so that’s 75 years. #mathsfreak

    1. @Girts And de la Rosa turns 41 this month so by Melbourne they’ll be 76.

  3. So he has paid enough money to take the seat. :)

    I expect a good season for HRT, the new management seems to be more profesional and Pedro is good driver, a hard worker, he will be an important active in the progress of the car.

    I wish a good season for Narai too, his race in India was good so I want him to kepp the momentum.

  4. Being replaced after 8 races, back for his home Grand Prix only, noy being signed into the team 3 days before official testing starts (does HRT even participate at the first test) with no input on the car the team builds…

    This reads like an F1rejects story in the making…

    1. @dennis I wonder if Karthikeyan will get a full season this time, or disappear halfway through the season only to magically reappear at the Indian Grand Prix?

      1. With money probably an issue, this could be very hard to predict.

        Maybe this time around for the indian GP Karun Chandhok gets a go. :P

    2. I believe his one and only points finish, a fourth place in a race with six cars is supposed to be good enough to prevent him getting an F1Rejects profile.

      1. Oh dear, I totally forgot about that.
        There’s still the “You Lucky ******” category. I think for the moment he fits in there just right.

    3. Its all about money money money

  5. There’s only one thing worse than a pay driver, and that’s one who thinks he’s a good driver….so disappointed with this announcement

  6. Karthikeyan and de la Rosa… no offence to either of them but I’ve seen more inspiring F1 driver line-ups.

    This looks like a team which needs money and will get little running preferring experienced drivers over rookies who would need time to get up to speed.

    Bad news for Giedo van der Garde, who had been tipped to get the drive.

    1. @keithcollantine a bigger question is, have you seen worse? I can’t remember… Minardi used to have a few

      1. i am happy that Narain is on the grid…however…its the worst car on the grid….his only goal is to be infront of Pedro..

        it might be the worst line up for many ppl..but it increases my interest in the season many folds..just to follow Narain..

        i think he is a better driver than most people credit him for..

        If he gets proper time in a car..he is quick..erratic but quick..

      2. I think it’s hard to beat Pacific’s driver line-up from 1995.

        Ranging from Jean-Denis Deletraz over Andrea Montermini up to Bertrand Gachot and I think Lavaggi, it was a festival of madiocrity at best.

        1. “Madiocrity” is my new favourite typo.

          1. I wish I could claim it wasn’t a typo.

        2. I won’t hear another bad word about Montermini, He used to win the championship on my old N64 game.

          Understandable really, because you could change the drivers around so I often had him driving every car. :D

    2. Indeed a bummer for Giedo van der Garde, hope he can still secure a place in GP2 and proof that he will be worthy of a F1 seat

      1. If he has a good year in GP2 then his better than driving for HRT. With HRT he will be just driving alone at the back with no one being able to see what his doing.
        I guess beating Dela Rosa would have been the goal but still winning over De la Rosa isn’t something that will give him a lot stronger status for other F1 teams than doing awesome in GP2.

      2. @Leen, I hope not. It’s been too long in GP2. I hope he gets Trulli’s seat (unlikely) or becomes reserve at Caterham (likely?)

    3. Hispania were always going to need drivers carrying a lot of money. Thankfully they have at least found competent drivers with a lot of money. I’m not expecting fireworks but they should at least get their machinery qualified (assuming it arrives).

      1. Narian really did redeem himself in India didn’t he?

    4. i’m actually quite interested to see who’ll win this battle of team mates. Karthikeyan is more racing fresh but de la rosa is a better driver.

    5. Come on kieth Narain is at least semi decent.. he’ll be fine.

    6. @keithcollantine It does look like bad news on paper for Van Der Garde but it would be a tremendous gamble putting his eggs in HRT’s basket. I’m going to say that they will probably struggle to make an impact this year so that doesn’t give Van Der Garde much chance to shine and attract anyone elses attention. Of course, it worked for Senna as he’s with Williams, but he also brought plenty of cash.

  7. Ohhhh boy…..!!! how can he even think that he will be in F1 after so two unsuccessful stints….. :(

  8. Honestly, now I wish HRT to collapse and disappear from the grid. Letting guys of Narain’s stature drive in F1 is a disgrace for the sport which was supposed to gather the best of the best. Sorry if any HRT fans feel offended.

    1. @cyclops_pl It does sound pretty harsh, but if I’m honest I can’t really disagree with you.

    2. There is hope if thy don’t make the 107%. Then we don’t have to see them on the Grid come Sunday.

    3. how about Williams F1 …should they disappear as well

      they havent exactly taken drivers for talent only…

      this is the reality of F1 now..the smaller teams need money or else they are out….

      1. The difference is they didn’t take a driver who already proved more than once he does not have what it takes to even be in F1. Senna and Maldonado, despite being pay drivers, are out of Narain’s league. Senna proved himself to be reasonable capable last season, whereas Maldonado already had success in lower tier series. What does Narain have as his racing achievements to justify his presence at the very top of motorsport?

        It really makes me angry and disappointed that HRT approached F1 very wrong. They just thought about rushing in to the sport without establishing solid financial and organizational foundations first, and than they didn’t think about consequences of such. I know that they have to look at the money first, but this is mostly their own fault. The other being responsible for this is FIA who let them into the sport, despite evident holes in their budget and organization.

        Now look how Caterham did it, that’s how you should do racing.

        1. Reasonably capable at what? Crashing into things?

          Williams’ lineup is miles ahead of HRT’s, but it’s hardly stunning…

        2. The only time Senna impressed was the qualifying in his first race….after that he was erratic and slow..he was outclassed by Petrov, who isn’t on the grid this year..

          the other impressive drive by Senna was for isport in GP2

          Narain has won races in all single seater categories..he has competed in..barrring F1 off course..
          coz the only rides he has had are at Jordan and HRT..

          Narain has been on pole for the Macau GP, and he put a pathetic Jordan 12th in Aus 2005 in the rain..the man is very capable ..only thing is he tends to overdrive these slow cars he gets into..

          Senna at HRT was horrible to say the least

        3. I would say that Karthikeyan did a decent job in World Series by Nissan from 2002 until 2004.

          I agree that a team shouldn’t normally start its F1 journey the way HRT did and it also shouldn’t still be building the cars during FP3 of the season opener. But the problem is that the latest alternatives to HRT have been Stefan GP and USF1, that is, simply a smaller number of teams / cars on the grid. It’s hard to find anyone willing and being able to pay at least $40 million per year to run a Formula 1 team these days. The established teams together with FOM and FIA should make it easier for new teams to enter the sport.

          1. What about Prodrive? Epsilon Euskadi? There were alternatives.

            Also I think HRT is now beyond being last, just because someone has to be. They are struggling for survival for the third year in a row. Look where Caterham and Marussia are now. They are have achieved something I think is critical for a new team – stability.

            As far as Karthikeyan is concerned, he is not a complete disaster who should not be put behind the wheel of anything. He’s just not up to F1 standards, as I said, F1 should be for the best of the best and there are some significantly better drivers out there, out of racing seat or even reserve seats. I don’t blame Narain for trying, aiming high is very respectable quality of a sportsman, I blame HRT and to a lesser extent other teams for failing to organize their teams in way which would allow them to hire the best, not the wealthiest.

            Oh, and I never claimed that Williams’ line-up is in any way spectacular. These are just probably two of the best pay drivers on the grid, nothing of a complement, yet still they are whole level higher than HRT’s duo.

          2. Caterham and Marussia? Stable?

            Caterham, much as I like Fernandes, has had three names in three years. This year they really have to prove themselves. Marussia were disastrous, so disastrous that HRT actually beat them last year as Virgin, they dumped the 100%-CFD idea and they’ve employed Pat Symonds. Who, engaging as he is, still has a question mark over him.

        4. @Cyclops_PL

          I fully agree with you that HRT shouldn’t be allowed to compete because of their consistent mismanagement.

          But as I’ve said at the start of the 2011 season, the idea that Narain isn’t a talented driver is as wrong as saying the sky is green. He was a consistent podium finisher and race winner in British F3 along with the likes of Takuma Sato, Anthony Davidson and Antonio Pizzonia. Narain was spoken of in the same light as these guys and in the 2000 Macau Grand Prix and Korean Super Prix was untouchable – he set pole and fastest lap on both the meetings and won the latter while crashing out at Macau.

          He finished his first Formula Nippon race in 6th place. It was only after that, during his World Series by Nissan (now World Series by Renault) years from 2002 to 2004 that his motivation seemed to waver and began to appear like a mediocre driver.

          But in first F1 year in Jordan he did impress and had a few great performances though he ultimately proved to be inconsistent was overtaken by teammate Tiago Monteiro.

          You must remember that in 2011 he returned to F1 after 6 years away from it racing machines as wide apart as the LMP1 Audi R10 sports prototype (in which he did impress) and NASCAR trucks. By that time F1 had changed and he was placed in HRT along with Liuzzi who was an active F1 driver. Even Daniel Ricciardo was someone who was progressing through the single seater ranks and had tested extensively with Red Bull. These reasons could account for the fact that the team-mates got the better of him. He also did not have age on his side.

          This year though would give an indication of Narain’s true potential because he is placed with someone who is older than him and who hasn’t been as active an F1 driver as Liuzzi was. Narain needs to perform better than him.

          But saying that Narain doesn’t deserve to be in F1 is a gross miscalculation and not based on facts. Most people seem to like Karun because of his seemingly more pleasing personality, but ask anyone who has been with both of them and followed their careers closely and they’ll say that in raw speed Narain is way ahead of Karun. Age may have taken a toll on Narain but he’ll certainly do justice to is role in HRT in its transitional and formative years.

          1. Borat Sagdiyev
            3rd February 2012, 11:27

            Narain doesn’t deserve to be in F1.

          2. i couldn’t have put it any better..


          3. Nice one PT someone who actually knows a bit about narain insted of just saying what everyone else does. Though i don’t agree with you on HRT, so long as they continue to scramble through the tasks demanded of them and all the teams by the fia. (No matter how embarrassingly) They deserve to be allowed to put a car on track and attempt to qualify. It’s not HRT’s fault they were chosen over arguably better prepared teams, that criticisim is owed to the fia.

    4. @cyclops_pl I don’t really consider myself an HRT fan but I couldn’t disagree more. The more teams on the grid, the better. And Karthikeyan ain’t that bad, he proved that very recently, at the Indian GP. All that he now needs is a half-solid car that wouldn’t have problems with meeting the 107% rule. Believe me, if all F1 teams operated with the same budget, we would suddenly get a totally different picture of F1 driver hierarchy.

      1. @TheBrav3

        I’m not personally against HRT as such, but their actions seem to point out that they aren’t sure about what they’re doing – frequent management changes, delays with making their car ready for the season, etc.

        Granted that’s normal for any new team, but going through the same uncertainty for three consecutive years is normally an indication that it’s all gonna fall flat. But it needn’t always be the case. Let’s hope HRT is finally in safe hands now.

        And yes the FIA really made a strange decision, choosing HRT over Epsilon and Prodrive. But now that HRT has been let in, it’s got to prove its worth.

    5. I don’t agree with that @cyclops_pl, this team will not give anyone a feeling of exitement, but there’s always someone last.
      Karthikeyan did a solid job in India, hardly an embarresment. And De La Rosa is not the fastest driver, but at least he knows how to develop the car.

      And its not as if they are not trying to get better, they fell foul of the 107% rule last year only in Australia when they did not have their 2011 spec nose cone available.

    6. @cyclops_pl I’m sure the team would have preferred a more promising driver as well. This is more of a sad reflection on the state of Formula 1 than HRT.

    7. Harsh, harsh but fair.

  9. Well I’m happy for Karthikeyan, but just like last year, I really didn’t see this coming.

  10. We need to understand that F1 is new to India, we hosted our first race only last year which was a resounding success. To build on that momentum, an Indian driver will certainly keep the interest engaged throughout the season.

    When he says this…. what should be understood… is this done just to keep “Market India” interested…..???

    1. Yeah, I was left wondering… Does HRT sell many cars in India?

      Drivers should be employed for their ability. Not their sponsorship £ size and certainly least of all for their nationality.

  11. This is Formula One isn’t it?. What an absolute joke F1 has become, De La Rosa and Karthikeyan have a combined age of nearly 80.

    I bet Liuzzi must be absolutely devasted? he will be getting paid not to drive that car that HRT call an F1 car. Gee the luck of some guy’s

    1. Looking 10 years back, I would probably agree, but if you go 20 years back…

      The amount of completely hopeless pay-drivers in even more hopeless teams was mind-boggling. And you don’t even have to go down to horror movies like Andrea Moda.

    2. going by ur logic of age if a team was to hire schumi and rubens …would they be making a mockery of f1?

      this is a decent line up for hrt gets them money to run their team and exprncd drivers to progress up the field

  12. Maybe HRT signed NK after they heard that van der Garde will replace Petrov who was replacing Trulli.

  13. HRT must really need the money. Nightmare…

  14. well he did beat the hyped up ricciardo in the indian gp..

    1. @sandy

      Only because Ricciardo had to make an extra pit stop due to a wheel fault.

      Ricciardo lost 42s with that and finished 30s behind Karthikeyan.

      1. so without the wheel fault he would have finished..12 sec ahead of narain..

        now, ricciardo is a rising talent..finishing 300km just 12 sec off him..doesn’t make narain the worst driver that he is made out to be
        and sure he would have had his share of problems flags specially

  15. In a former life, Narain Karthikeyan must have been either the Pope or a Russian President – just when you think he’s gone for good, he comes back.

    1. Go Narain.. I think am a fan beginning today. :)

      1. Tom (@tomforpresident)
        3rd February 2012, 14:01

        @Hola sometimes it’s too much trouble to hate. starting today i’m officially a member of the Narain Kartakayan fan club *shudders* now i’m off to go and practice spelling his name for banners and posters and tattoos etc

        1. I’m with you guys who wants to be a hater? that’s not fun.

    2. Na-na-narain, lover of the Hispanian queen – they put some poison in his wine.

      Na-na-narain, India’s greatest love machine – he drank it all and said: “I feel fine!”

      1. @Klon,

        Great poem, but there’s nothing more that Narain can expect to get at this stage in his career. Maybe if he beats Pedro de la Rosa consistently this season…

  16. Well, that completes the line-up.. No Barrichello, no Sutil, no Petrov, no Buemi, no Alguesuari…

    But it’s okay, cause we’ve got Grosjean and Karthikeyan!

    Oh, wait a minute…

    1. @keeleyobsesses Grosjean dominated GP2! There is really no one more deserving of an F1 seat this year from the feeder categories.

      1. i agree with these parts of what you said. ;)

        “There is really no one” “deserving of an F1 seat this year from the feeder categories.”

  17. the whole weekend karthikeyan was hardly 0.1 sec off the pace of ricciardo..not bad pace considering he hadnt raced the previous 7 races

  18. HRT made a very sensible decision.
    When you are at the back it makes no difference if you are a tenth slower or faster.
    Recciardo only got the seat last year because he brought money and he didn’t take pole either.

    They had the option of taking a fresh young driver and watching the races from home or taking a capable and financed driver and making it to the races.
    It is so easy to criticise when ypu are not the one doing the mathematics.

  19. If they’re not going to take it seriously why don’t they just put someone like Paris Hilton in the bloody car?

    1. Because she is more interested in Moto2 ;-)

    2. Also, her sponsors probably don’t pay as much…

  20. Wouldn’t be suprised if HRT didn’t make it to the end of this year, i can somewhat understand the thought behind taking De La Rosa (although he has proven at Sauber to have become miraculously slow), but then adding Karthikeyan? Yikes!

    I’m no fan of Sutil/Petrov/Buemi/Alguersuari (but I am of Rubens!) but anyone of those would have been more deserving of even a seat at HRT then Narain.

  21. Exciting announcement? No.

    Terrible decision? Maybe not.

    I really see no point in HRT having a young, inexperienced yet exciting driver line-up (from their point of view, not the fans’ point of view).

    With Pedro they’ve got reams of driving experience and McLaren experience which can be used to (a) keep the car on the track and (b) help develop it.

    And now with Narain Karthikeyan they’ve got another pair of safe hands that can bring the car home. No, he’s not exciting. And he often finishes at the back of the grid (sometimes due to penalties for blocking). But he doesn’t usually crash into things, so from a young team’s point of view, this is a good thing.

    Let’s face it, if HRT signed Alonso, Hamilton or Vettel, we still wouldn’t be seeing much better results than if Karthikeyan drives the car. And don’t forget, people: Narain finished 4th in the 2005 United States Grand Prix! ;)

    Also, think of the masses of money HRT will make from endorsements for the Indian GP.

    For us fans, yeah, boring, disappointing. But from HRT’s point of view, considering they also got a big bag of dosh for taking him, not a bad choice. This team needs to build slowly, like Luiz Perez-Sala says, “from scratch”. It will take time. Once their car is showing the promise of getting beyond Q3 in qualifying, then they can look towards less profitable yet more exciting drivers. First and foremost, the team needs to develop whilst ensuring it stays alive.

    I completely disagree with those who say a team like HRT does not deserve to be in F1. Often following these struggling teams is more interesting that watching the front runners win again and again and again.

  22. I can understand why a team like HRT would take a driver with some experience (and some money) but Karthikeyan will be barely noticed this year. Dont remember him achieveing anything noteworthy last time. Bring in some fresh blood, give someone a chance to prove themselves.

  23. no disrispect towards karthikayen but i think HRT are making a massive mistake, he doesn’t quite cut the mustard for me. as we saw last season he will more than likely be sent packing before the half way point of the season, however, i do feel sorry for karthikayen saying that his elated to be racing for a team like HRT, come on, seriously.

    1. daniel ricciardo was also “elated” to take Narain’s place….was he not serious?

      its PR..he cannot go there and say..look this is a very bad car and i am just clinging onto this as i love racing…

      rubens would have been elated to take this drive too..

      they are racers..they need to race..whatever they can get their hands onto,..

  24. Wow, looks like just about everyone of us on this site could be an F1 driver next year if we can get some money together. HRT really don’t belong in F1, no real ambitions to to do anything but make a few quid.

    1. HRT really don’t belong in F1, no real ambitions to to do anything but make a few quid.

      What a load of rubbish.

    2. Rubbish indeed. Just the fact that they have to let the driver pay their bills surely doesn’t make much economic sense if you’re attempting to turn a profit?!

      They’re determined and that sportsmanship enough for me.

  25. He wouldn’t have been my first choice but i’ll give HRT and Karthikeyan the benefit of the doubt here. New management might make for an interesting season.

  26. Tom (@tomforpresident)
    3rd February 2012, 13:58

    If he’s really that bad it makes you wonder why TCS put their money behind him, it’s a pretty massive company, if they wanted to be in formula 1 so bad they could probably make a team, or genetically breed a great driver.

  27. Why would HRT drop him halfway through 2011 and re-sign him for 2012? This is the most stupid mistake ever.

  28. I’ve read somewhere that he said “my performance at the Indian GP is why I’m back!” (not literally like that, but thats the point he’s making).

    Right….so you’re bad enough to get sacked, then good enough (read *economic interests because of Indian GP*) to return for 1 race. Consequently not good enough to stay, yet good enough to return the next year on the basis of that race after wich you were sacked the 2nd time.

    I don’t think this says anything about HRT…..*sarcasm*

  29. On the positive side, at least some young up and coming future star of F1 won’t get stuck in a dead end backmarker team, thus killing their career before it starts. It can’t be easy to show your potential in such a useless and undeliverable car. Good luck to De la Rosa & Karthikeyan.

    1. Riciardo didn’t get stuck, can’t deny he moved up the ladder!

  30. I think this is a good choice for HRT,

    Theyve got 2 experienced drivers specially with having Pedro de la Rosa, and they are getting money coming in from the sponsorship that Narain will be bringing to the team.

    Yes Narain isnt the most talented driver on the grid, but neither is Pedro to be honest, but i still think its a good line as theyve got 2 experienced drivers.

  31. worst. team. ever.

  32. Narain and Nando have atleast one thing in common, both get ample abuse at this site. I sometimes wonder sole of purpose of this site is insulting non-english drivers…

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