Having raced in National Championships in India, sometimes or rather many-a-times when i mention about my love for racing and my endeavors, an average layman has a blank mind for 2secs and later are quick to respond " OHH!! NARAIN KARTHIKEYAN ". It doesn't matter if they know what Motor-Racing is or even if it exists in India. I know people who were surprised when i said, we have Formula Car races taking place in Chennai and Coimbatore, since for more than 20yrs now, but they knew 'Narain Karthikeyan'!
Narain Karthikeyan is easily one of the core reasons for a (much needed) revolution of sorts in the Indian Motorsports scene. In 2005 when Narain Karthikeyan made his debut in F1, the whole nation stood up and watched him. He had reinforced the fact that he is the 'Fastest Indian on wheels '. 2005 was a wonderful year, people who browsed past the sports channels on the sight of racing cars(and not finding cricket match on it) now stopped and watched the races. The No. of visitors visiting Malaysia and Bahrain to catch a glimpse of Narain Karthikeyan zooming past 'em on his yellow Jordan EJ15 quadrupled.
Narain Karthikeyan was pitted against a Portuguese team mate by the name of 'Tiago Montiero'. When it came to driving approach, both were like two different sides of coins. Narain would not just push the car he would push it well over its limits whereas Tiago was somebody who would prefer driving the car just touching its limits. In simple words Narain was an aggressive driver, he is someone who doesn't believe in slowing down, for him racing means its either 100% or 100% +. Every bug in the paddock agreed Narain was a quicker driver compared to Tiago. What did him in was though 1. The no tyre change rule of 2005, due to which he was usually left with bald tyres with no grip during the end of every GP, thanks to his driving style (this rule was abandoned the following season due to obvious safety reasons) 2. A slow Jordan with capability to only beat the Minardi's, Jordan EJ15 and also its B-Spec both were the 9th most slowest cars of 2005 out of 10 teams(Still Karthikeyan made it a point not to make life easy, particularly for the 'Team Sauber-Petronas' drivers.
After 2005 Karthikeyan couldn't find a seat again with any F1 out-fit, he couldn't gather enough sponsors either to get a paid seat with Jordan (which later became Midland F1 for 2006). Narain though landed a 4th drivers seat with Williams F1 team. With not much track time with a ban on ,on season testing there was no point in rusting as a Test Driver and hence he resigned as a Test Driver for Williams F1 for the next season.
In 2007 Narain joined ' A1 Team India ' as their official driver Racing Driver, he had 1 pole and 1 win in different rounds during the season and the team finished in top 10 out of 24 Teams that season, the following season too he registered a win and in 2009 he got the struggline A1 Team India fresh out of the loss of its title sponsors , to a podium.
In 2009 Narain competed in ' 24hr Le Mans series' for Dr.Colin Kolles's team.After being invited by his 2005 Jordan Team principal himself to race for his newly created team in Le Mans, hence the air about Kolles not having much liking towards Narain's driving was cleared. Narain with obvious contributions from fellow team mates finished consistently in top 8 and their best finish was 6th. In 2010 he competed in NASCAR-Truck Series and also in ' Superleauge Formula series ' winning one race at Brands Hatchs and being voted as the most popular driver in NASCAR Truck Series- US.
In January 2011 Narain Karthikeyan was signed up once again by a Formula 1 outfit, this time by the name of 'Hispania Racing Team(HRT) ' , backed by Tata and Tata Motors, Karthikeyan is to once again race in Formula one after a gap of 5 seasons/Years.
HRT was the weakest team of 2010 F1 Season, with the team being consitently off the pace by a staggering average of 5.6sec. Unlike last year when the team unvieled their car at the very last moment at the first race of the season and had not tested their cars at all (with Karun Chandhok first time trying the car out during the Bahrain GP Qualifying session!!!!), this year they are utilizing winter testing pretty thoroughly, with karthikeyan consistently being pretty much ahead of his competition, if unofficial lap timings are to be believed.
Karthikeyan has something special about him which gets people to stand up and watch, irrespective of the position he is running in, with the regulations seemingly in favour of Mr.Karthikeyan. Though i would advice not to expect toooo much (Do I need to repeat he is not Racing a Ferrari,McLaren...nor a Red-Bull! ;) ) but a decent and entertaining performance could certainly and surely be expected from the Fastest Indian on Wheels.