No F1 race track in Hyderabad yet? Do not fret. Here is some heartening news for Indian Formula 1 aficionados. Narain Karthikeyan is set to become the first Indian on the F1 circuit.
Karthikeyan today announced he had, in principle, agreed to race for the Jordan F1 team in the 2005 season. The agreement is expected to be finalised in the next few days.
Even the fastest Indian on the road could not beat the Mumbai traffic, and the young star reached the media meeting a good hour late with the main sponsors, Tata Consultancy Services, Tata Motors and Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) in tow.
“I have been through many ups and downs in my career but I have always wanted to get here,” said Karthikeyan. If things stay on course, he will make his big-league debut on March 6 at the Australian Grand prix in Melbourne.
Neither Karthikeyan nor the sponsors divulged any of the financial details, saying that though they were sure about their piecemeal contributions, the overall picture would not become clear until Karthikeyan signed on the dotted line.
Meanwhile, Karthikeyan is also talking to another long-time sponsor, JK Tyres, and some other companies to mobilise more funds.
The Tatas have had a long association with Karthikeyan and company executives said the relationship was beneficial to the company as it would get them global visibility. Logos of both Tata Motors and BPCL will be featured on Karthikeyan’s Jordan F1 car.
Current trends in F1 require drivers to “purchase” their seats, unless you are Michael Schumacher. The Jordan F1 team has been languishing at the back of the pack for some years, with financial troubles.
However, the team was recently acquired by the Midland group, which promises to wipe the slate clean. The group is owned by a Russian billionaire, and fittingly, Karthikeyan’s new car will be unveiled shortly at the Red Square in Moscow.
Karthikeyan is expected to get his first chance to drive the car at the circuit near Barcelona in Spain as part of the preparations for the first race in March.