Wednesday June 13th, 2001
Narain Karthikeyan is set to become the first non-Japanese Asian to drive a Formula One car and says his priority is "not to do anything silly". The Indian driver, 24, will test drive for the Jaguar team at Silverstone on Thursday.
"I don't expect a lot. It will be the first time for me in a Formula One car," Karthikeyan told Reuters by phone from the Northampton circuit on Wednesday. "But I won't do silly things. I won't crash the car."
Karthikeyan has participated in the British Formula Three championship in the last two seasons, winning three races among six podium finishes. The Indian, who currently races in the Formula Nippon championship in Japan, said: "Nippon cars come very close to Formula One and I am sure it has helped me in my approach to the test drive."
He said he was eager to make an impression in front of top Formula One drivers who would be present. "All the drivers..., the Schumachers are here," he said.
Karthikeyan said racing in Formula Nippon has given him an idea of what to expect during the test drive. "F1 cars are very nimble, they can be very unreliable and it is totally new to me."
Karthikeyan, whose father G.R. Karthikeyan is a former Indian national rally champion, took to the sport as a teenager and attended the Elf-Winfield Racing School in France. The Indian, who claimed pole position in the Macau World Cup event last November after setting a record in the qualifiers, said his Formula One test drive was a recognition for his region.
"Now people realise that in that part of the world also there are talented drivers who are coming in," he said.
Karthikeyan was first scheduled to test with Jaguar in December last year as part of his contract with the Stewart Formula Three team, now called Jaguar Racing. But the test was twice postponed and a third appearance in March was ruled out because of Karthikeyan's commitment with Team Impul in preparation for the Formula Nippon season.