He's just announced that he is driving for Hispania Racing in 2011 but just who is Narain Karthikeyan...
He turns 34 next week and is back in a race seat 6 years after his one and only season with Jordan. It was a largely frustrating year in an uncompetitive car, the Indian only scoring at the USA grand prix where only 6 cars took the start. Indeed he was outspoken about the quality of the car and ended up having a war of words with Colin Kolles who will now manage him at Hispania. The season would end with a heavy crash in Shanghai.
A test driver role with Williams followed but Karthikeyan's turned to A1GP after that. The emergence of Force India offered hope but he was unable to secure a drive with Vijay Mallya's team. He was scheduled to drive for a Colin Kolles entered team in the Le Mans 24 hour race in 2009 but a shoulder injury ruled him out at short notice. Late last year he had a day in the Force India simulator. It was reported that he was a second slower than the times set by fellow countryman Karun Chandhok. It appears that Force India were trying to get a Indian driver involved in the team, especially with the Grand Prix happening in New Delhi this October. However it appears Karthikeyan did not have the pace to earn a seat.
What he does seem to have is massive backing from the Tata group. They may also be a help to Hispania technically as well as financially with some of the resources that they have. Indeed they have a computer company which can run computer fluid dynamic programmes but they have an exclusive contract with Force India. However money ruled the decision making process at Hispania in 2010 and appears to me again this season. This issue could become even greater after the owner of the team José Ramón Carabante was ordered to pay 35m Euros by a Spanish court yesterday.
Karthikeyan gets another chance to show what he can do in a F1 car and if he can survive to October will race in the inaugural Indian Grand Prix. With doubts over his ability and the development of Hispania's 2011 car shrouded in mystery you do have to wonder if his weekends will consist of being lapped or even battling the 107% rule on Saturday afternoon's.