Biography of Narain Karthikeyan

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Narain Karthikeyan Biography

Indian Motor Racing Driver Kumar Ram Narain Karthikeyan Biography

Kumar Ram Narain Karthikeyan is born 14th January, 1977, Coimbatore, India is the first Formula One motor racing driver from India. Narain Karthikeyan has previously competed in Formula One, A1GP, and the Le Mans Series. Narain Karthikeyan made his Formula One debut in 2005 with the Jordan team, and was a WilliamsF1 test driver in 2006 and 2007.

Like several other former F1 drivers, Karthikeyan moved to stock car racing and drove the #60 Safe Auto Insurance Company Toyota Tundra for Wyler Racing in the 2010 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. In January 2011, however, he announced that he has signed to drive for the Hispania Racing team in the 2011 Formula One season.

Narain Karthikeyan Career

Karthikeyan was born in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu. Karthikeyan did his schooling at Stanes Anglo Indian Higher Secondary School, Coimbatore. Karthikeyan’s interest in motorsport began at an early age, as his father was a Former Indian National Rally Champion winning South India Rally seven times.

Narain Karthikeyan is also related to the late S. Karivardhan, India’s most famous racing driver until Karthikeyan came along. With the ambition of becoming India’s first Formula One driver, Karthikeyan finished on the podium in his first ever race, at Sriperumpudur in a Formula Maruti ( a.k.a.FISSME ).

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Narain Karthikeyan then went onto the Elf Winfield Racing School in France, showing his talent by becoming a semi – finalist in the Pilote Elf Competition for Formula Renault cars in 1992. Narain Karthikeyan returned to India to race in Formula Maruti for the 1993 season, and in the same year, Narain Karthikeyan also competed in the Formula Vauxhall Junior championship in Great Britain. This gave him valuable experience in European racing, and Narain Karthikeyan was keen to return for the following year.

In 1994, Narain Karthikeyan returned to the UK, racing in the Formula Ford Zetec series as the number two works Vector driver for the Foundation Racing team. The highlight of the season was a podium finish in a support race for the Portuguese Grand Prix held at Estoril. Karthikeyan also took part in the British Formula Ford Winter Series, and became the first Indian to win any championship in Europe.

In 1995, Karthikeyan graduated to the Formula Asia Championship for just four races. However, he showed pace immediately and was able to finish second in the race at Shah Alam, Malaysia. In 1996, Narain Karthikeyan had a full season in the series and became the first Indian and the first Asian to win the Formula Asia International series.

Narain Karthikeyan moved back to Britain in 1997 to compete in the British Formula Opel Championship with the Nemesis Motorsport team, taking a pole position and win at Donington Park and finishing sixth in the overall points standings.

In 1998, Karthikeyan made his debut in the British Formula Three Championship with the Carlin Motorsport team. Competing in only 10 rounds, Narain Karthikeyan managed two third place finishes in the final two races of the season, at Spa – Francorchamps and Silverstone, to finish 12th overall.

Narain Karthikeyan continued in the championship for 1999, finishing on the podium five times, including two wins at Brands Hatch. His season also included two pole positions, three fastest laps and two lap records, helping him to sixth in the championship.

Narain Karthikeyan also competed in the Macau Grand Prix, qualifying in sixth position and finishing sixth in the second race. Continuing his drive in the British F3 Championship in 2000, Narain Karthikeyan finished fourth overall in the standings, and also took pole position and fastest laps in the Macau Grand Prix. Narain Karthikeyan also won both the International F3 race at Spa – Francorchamps and the Korea Super Prix.

Karthikeyan started 2001 in the Formula Nippon F3000 Championship, finishing the year amongst the top ten. In the same year, Narain Karthikeyan became the first Indian to ever drive a Formula One car, testing for the Jaguar Racing team at Silverstone on 14 June. Impressed with his performance, Narain Karthikeyan was then offered a test drive in the Jordan – Honda EJ11 at Silverstone in September. Karthikeyan again tested for Jordan, at Mugello in Italy on 5th October, finishing just half a second off the pace off Jordan’s lead driver Jean Alesi.

In 2002, Narain Karthikeyan moved into the Telefonica World Series with Team Tata RC Motorsport, taking a pole position and setting the fastest non – Formula One lap time at the Interlagos Circuit in Brazil. Continuing in the renamed Superfund Word Series in 2003, Karthikeyan won two races and took three other podium positions on his way to fourth overall in the championship. These results earned him another Formula One test drive, this time with the Minardi team.

Narain Karthikeyan was offered a race drive for the 2004 season, but was unable to raise the necessary sponsorship funds to seal the deal. During the year, Narain Karthikeyan married Pavarna.

Narain Karthikeyan continued in the Nissan World Series, renamed “World Series by Nissan”, in 2004, taking wins in Valencia, Spain and Magny – Cours, France.

Teams : Carlin Motorsport, RC Motorsport, Team Impul, Williams F1 Team, Jordan Toyota.

Championships : British Formula 3, Formula Nippon, Formula Nissan ( now merged as Formula Renault ).

Formula One Career

On 1st February, 2005, Karthikeyan announced that Narain Karthikeyan had signed the preliminary deal with Jordan Formula One team and said that Narain Karthikeyan would be their main driver for the 2005 Formula One season, thus making him India’s first Formula One racing driver. His partner was the Portuguese driver, Tiago Monteiro.

Karthikeyan completed the necessary testing distance of 300 km in an F1 car in order to gain his superlicence at the Silverstone Circuit on 10 February.

In his first race, the Australian Grand Prix, Karthikeyan qualified in 12th position. After a poor start which saw him drop to 18th place by the end of the first lap, Karthikeyan finished in 15th, two laps behind winner Giancarlo Fisichella.

Narain Karthikeyan achieved his first points in the 2005 United States Grand Prix under farcical circumstances as all but three teams pulled out due to an argument over tyre safety. Karthikeyan finished fourth, finishing ahead of the two Minardi drivers but behind team mate Monteiro. Apart from the USGP, Karthikeyan’s highest finish was 11th place.

In the 2005 Japanese Grand Prix free practice, he was fastest for a long period of time and eventually qualified 11th. At the 2005 Chinese Grand Prix he qualified in 15th place, very close in times to many of the top teams. In an unlucky end to his 2005 season, Karthikeyan crashed his Jordan into a wall at the Chinese race, but was unhurt and able to provide an interview afterwards.

Because the Jordan team was taken over and renamed Midland for the 2006 season, the management change prompted some doubt over Karthikeyan’s future at the team. Near the end of 2005, Karthikeyan announced he would not be driving for Midland the following year allegedly due to their demand that he pay as much as USD 11.7 million to secure his seat on the team.

Narain Karthikeyan mentioned that “anyway, being a test driver in a good car will allow me to showcase my skills better”. On 8 December 2005, Karthikeyan tested for Williams at Spain and finished a respectable fifth, outpacing the confirmed Williams second driver, Nico Rosberg in the FW27C chassis, who finished ninth. On 27 January 2006, Williams confirmed Karthikeyan as their fourth driver.

Narain Karthikeyan was to perform testing duties for the team alongside Alexander Wurz who had been confirmed earlier as the team’s third driver. Narain Karthikeyan was retained as a reserve test driver for Williams alongside Kazuki Nakajima in 2007. Karthikeyan said he was blown away by the difference between Formula One’s stragglers and a top flight team.

Later in 2007, Narain Karthikeyan was linked with the Spyker ( previously Jorda n) Formula One team after their driver Christijan Albers was fired, although Sakon Yamamoto got the drive. Due to the withdrawal of support from Tata ( Karthikeyan’s main sponsor ) of Williamsf1, Nakajima was given the lion’s share of testing duties and Karthikeyan was sidelined.

When the Spyker F1 team was bought out by Vijay Mallya towards the end of 2007, Narain Karthikeyan had been linked with a drive with the new Force India Formula One team in 2008. However, Narain Karthikeyan did not even get to test for the team.

Narain Karthikeyan was also linked to a drive with the Super Aguri team in January 2008, as one of the terms of an Indian consortium investing in the team. The deal was not agreed and he continued to drive for A1 Team India. Karthikeyan was India’s only Formula One driver until the 2010 season, when Karun Chandhok signed to drive for the Hispania Racing F1 Team.

On 6 January 2011, Narain Karthikeyan announced that he will drive for the Hispania team in the 2011 season, following five years away from active involvement in the championship. Karthikeyan confirmed the deal via his Twitter page, saying it would “be a dream come true to race in front of the home crowd in the Indian GP in October,” and adding that the support of financial backers Tata Group had been “instrumental.”

Other Events and Races of Narain Karthikeyan

1. IRL Test

In 2005, Narain Karthikeyan tested an Indy Racing League ( IRL ) car for Red Bull Cheever Racing team for the Indianapolis 500 race and was offered half a million US dollars as initial fee, but the deal was not completed.

2. A1 GP

In 2007 season Karthikeyan also drove for A1 Team India. Narain Karthikeyan made his A1 GP debut in New Zealand and he finished 10th in the sprint race and 7th in the Feature Race.

Karthikeyan won the A1GP of Zhuhai ( China ) for Team India on 16 December 2007. This was India’s first A1GP win. Karthikeyan is also the first to take pole position for India in the A1GP. Narain Karthikeyan got pole in the feature race in Brands Hatch in 2008.

Narain Karthikeyan won two feature races in the 2007 – 2008 season, including the season finale at Brands Hatch starting from pole position. This helped India finish in the top ten, ahead of such as Australia, Brazil, China and Italy.

The 4th season for Team India was disastrous as the team lost its title sponsor. On 3 May, 2009 A1 Team India finished the season with a podium finish in the Sprint Race at Brands Hatch. Karthikeyan qualified the A1 Team India car in 7th place on the starting grid for the race. The Feature Race ended abruptly for Karthikeyan, as he was taken out by the spinning car of A1 Team China in front of him on the first corner of the first lap. The team finished 12th overall in the 2008 – 2009 season.

3. The 24 Hours of Le Mans

In the second week of March 2009, Karthikeyan tested for the Kolles Le Mans Team. It was later confirmed that for the 2009 season, Narain Karthikeyan will be partnered by Christijan Albers. Team Kolles – headed by ex – Force India Team Principal Colin Kolles – will be taking part in the championship with two Audi R10 turbo diesel machines.

The car boasts a successful racing history with three Le Mans 24h victories and 22 individual race wins to its name. Team Kolles joins the championship for the first time in 2009.

On 11 May 2009, Karthikeyan finished sixth in his first ever Le Mans series race while driving for the Kolles Audi team in the second round of the 2009 championship held at the Spa – Francorchamps circuit in Belgium.

On 14th June, 2009 Karthikeyan dislocated his shoulder in a fall just before the start of the race. Narain Karthikeyan had come up with strong performances in the practice and the qualifying, and was scheduled to do the opening double stint. At 1:00 am the ACO organization declared him unsuitable to drive, even though the Audi doctor approved it.


Karthikeyan made his NASCAR debut at Martinsville Speedway on 27 March 2010 driving in the Kroger 250 Camping World Truck Series for Wyler Racing in the #60 Safe Auto Insurance Company Chevrolet Silverado. Qualifying was rained out and the field set by 2009 owner points, putting the first Indian – born driver to compete in NASCAR in the 11th starting spot.

After a slow start and coming to grips with driving a race truck and racing on an American oval short track for the first time, Karthikeyan did manage to put in a very respectable effort and finished on the lead lap in 13th place. Narain Karthikeyan went on to win the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Most Popular Driver Award for the 2010 season which was voted by the fans.

5. Superleague Formula

Narain drove for the PSV team in SFL in 2010. Narain Karthikeyan won the 2nd race at Brands Hatch, Great Britain.

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