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Rediff.com  » Sports » F1 could be in India in 4 years: Narain

F1 could be in India in 4 years: Narain

February 05, 2005 16:29 IST

Ace driver Narain Karthikeyan feels the government must wake up to new vistas opening up for Indian motorsport and start working seriously on hosting a Formula One Grand Prix.

Narain said with his clinching a drive with the Jordan Formula One team for 2005, F1 arriving into India could become a reality but the government must strike when the iron is hot.

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"The deal [with Jordan] would definitely add more interest to the sport in India. It [an F1 Grand Prix] could come in the next three-four years," Narain said from Silverstone.

"But the government must realise that this is a great business model and take it up seriously," said the 28-year old Coimbatore-based driver.

Narain, who becomes the first India to race in Formula One championship, said his Jordan team has set "realistic" targets for the season.

"It is late in the day [that the deal was struck]. We have set realistic goals, to try and get the best out of everyone," he said.

Tiego Monteiro of Portugal will be the other driver as his teammate, with Trevor Carlin as team head.

Monteiro, though a rookie himself, has raced in F-2 and been a test driver for Minardi.

The initial task is to work on the car specifications, which would be to suit the individual needs like seating, head height and feet position.

The team has scheduled three test sessions, with first slated for February 9 at Silverstone, the second in Barcelona the following week and the third again at Silverstone.

The first of 19 races in the calendar will be in Melbourne's Albert Park on March 6.

The fact that he had worked with Carlin and some others in the team previously will ease Narain into the job.      One of the reasons for his not so good showing in the Nissan series was that he had problems in communicating with his engineers who were mostly Italians.

That won't be the case in the Jordan team.

"A lot of people are new but there are some with whom I have worked before. It is a big advantage, having familiar faces definitely helps," Narain said.

Motorsport at its best is perfect combination of man and machine. And while the engineers work on the car, named Jordan-Toyota EJ15, for the season, the drivers will themselves have to work on their fitness.

The head and neck in particular will have to be strong and steady to withstand the G-Force that comes into play when the car bends through the corners at breakneck speeds during a 300-km long race.

"Well, I have been keeping fit, doing my running everyday," he said.

But having spent the last two months running from pillar to post to clinch the deal -- "it hasn't been that tough," he said but the relief in his voice could be noted -- it is going to be that much difficult for Narain.

He will also have to quickly adapt to the advanced technologies that will be vital to controlling the monster of a car that can achieve speeds of upto 340 kmph.

But all this is only half the challenge and the real one would come when he sits in the car. With 19 races at different venues, Narain will be racing on many unknown circuits. In fact, Shanghai and Bahrain were added to the calendar only last year.

To be the fastest, one has to know the correct racing line. So, a driver has to not only know the race tracks but also memorise the turns and chicanes.

"Some races are going to be hard as they will be new. But some will be good. But as I told you, our realistic target is to get points. At this stage, we can't expect to win," he said.

After years of tears and sweat, Narain will be suddenly realising his dreams -- racing against some of the greatest drivers he had idolised including Ferrari's seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher.

His mind must be racing at the thought but he is not getting carried away.

"I like to concentrate on my job," he said.

"Still a lot of work needs to be done, hopefully everything goes well. As I said before, first aim is to finish [the race]."

He was practical in assessing his strengths and chances of pulling off an upset win.

"Well, Michael is the best driver. There's no doubt about that. Maybe, qualifying will be my plus point."

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