LONDON, April 3, 2011 (AFP) - Narain Karthikeyan has made clear he believes he can enjoy a resurgent Formula One career in the year of India's first Grand Prix - starting with his Hispania team making it on to the grid for the Malaysian Grand Prix.
Karthikeyan on Track.
The 34-year-old Indian driver, who has returned to the top six years after his last full season with the Jordan team in 2005, had to sit out last weekend's season opening Australian Grand Prix because the Spanish-based team were not ready for the contest.
They were still building their untested 2011 cars as practice and qualifying proceeded - leaving Karthikeyan to concentrate on the exploits of his good friend Sachin Tendulkar and the Indian World Cup cricket team.
"It was very disappointing not to make the grid in Melbourne, but it will be another thing altogether in Malaysia," he said. "I think we will be in better shape and have a chance to qualify - and I think there will be a lot of support too."
In Melbourne, the team failed to clock a time that was within 107 per cent of the pole lap set by defending world champion German Sebastian Vettel despite the best efforts of Karthikeyan and Italian Vitantonio Liuzzi, who has
a lot more recent experience in Formula One.
"The most important thing that will affect us is going to be the new front wing for the car," said Karthikeyan. "If we get that and it is on the car for Sepang, I am pretty confident we can qualify for the race and then our season starts for real.
"We can build on that and for myself it is important because I want to prove a few things this year. It is important for me as we have the Indian Grand Prix later in the season."
The softly-spoken Karthikeyan added that, contrary to the criticism from many observers, Hispania are a serious team and they intend to upset a few people with opinions. "We respect the rules and we want to succeed, so we have to do much better," he said. "But it is unfair to describe us as jokers. That is not right. We are a serious team and we are going to do better.
"I think we are going to surprise a few people and I am sure, also that I can adapt pretty quickly. I know the Malaysia circuit really well and I like it so I am sure I can go well if we have all the parts we need for the car."