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My speed was clinching factor: Narain
September 28, 2006 17:58 IST
Narain Karthikeyan's career received a major fillip on Thursday after he was appointed 'official test driver' by Williams F1 for 2007.
The Chennai-born driver will occupy the slot left vacant by Alexander Wurz, who got promoted as race driver following the departure of Australia's Mark Webber.
Like this year, when he was the second test driver, Narain will be paid by Williams and handsomely at that.
After a roller-coaster debut with Jordan in 2005, which mostly consisted of non-finishes in a ramshackle car, and a season of near to nothing as second test driver this year, this would be the right platform for the 29-year-old Coimbatore lad to re-launch his Formula One dreams.
It falls short of being the race driver, but Narain has preferred the hard and long route to success to the easy and short-term option of hitching a ride with a low rung team.
"Naturally as a racing driver, my first priority is to compete. But I would far rather test with a leading team than accept a race seat that offers no real potential to learn and develop," Narain said from his native town.
"The role of official test driver is a much more high profile job than what I did this year for Williams.
"People like Alex Wurz and Pedra de la Rosa have been test drivers for five-six years before becoming race drivers.
"Obviously I don't want to wait that long but your reputation really grows when you are a test driver. And seats with the big teams are limited."
The fact that Williams have appointed Narain so early -- three races still remain to go in the current season � points to the British team's faith in the Indian.
"Initially the learning took some time. But once I came into my own, I was able to win the faith of Sir Frank (Williams) and that made things easy," he said.
"I think my speed was the clinching factor. Sir Frank (Williams F1's Team Principal) has complimented it."
On their part, Williams said that besides Narain's speed, it was also his experience with driving the Toyota-powered Jordan and on Bridgestone tyres that proved crucial.
"Narain's appointment is extremely popular within the team because he is hardworking, conscientious and capable in the car. It is also significant that Narian carries with him India's growing Formula One interest, which is exciting," Sir Frank said in a statement from London.
The new season will see all cars in Formula One driving on Bridgestone, and from Cosworth V10 to Toyota V8 engine.
Williams have already begun their transition process with Narain testing the FW29 car at Silverstone during a four-day programme from Sep 19 to 22.
"I am the first driver to test the new Toyota engine for Williams," he said.
"We are waiting for the FIA to finalise the regulations for the new season. Once we know that, we will begin the full programme."
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