In his single-seater career, he has won races in the A1GP, British F3, Nissan World Series, AutoGP, Formula Asia, British Formula Ford, and Opel series.
Kumar Ram Narain Karthikeyan is a racing driver from India. He was the first Indian to race in Formula One. He previously raced in the A1GP and the Le Mans Series. In his single-seater career, he has won races in the A1GP, British F3, Nissan World Series, AutoGP, Formula Asia, British Formula Ford, and Opel series. In 1994, he won the British Formula Ford Winter Series, and in 1996, he won the Formula Asia Championship. In addition, he finished fourth overall in the British F3 series in 2000 and the World Nissan series in 2003. He debuted in Formula One with the Jordan team in 2005 and was a Williams F1 test driver in 2006 and 2007.
Karthikeyan, like several other former Formula One drivers, transitioned to stock car racing, driving the No. 60 Safe Auto Insurance Company Toyota Tundra for Wyler Racing in the 2010 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. He returned to F1 in 2011 with the HRT team, continued with them in 2012, and was expected to drive for them again in 2013. However, HRT was not on the FIA’s 2013 entry list, leaving Karthikeyan without a ride. Karthikeyan raced in the Japanese Super Formula series from 2014 to 2018. In 2019, he ended his single-seater career by joining Japan’s SuperGT series. In 2010, the Indian government bestowed the fourth highest civilian honor, the Padma Shri, on him.
Karthikeyan announced on 1 February 2005 that he had signed a preliminary contract with the Jordan Formula One team and that he would be their main driver for the 2005 Formula One season, making him India’s first Formula One racing driver. Tiago Monteiro, a Portuguese driver, was his partner. Karthikeyan completed the required 300-kilometer testing distance in an F1 car at the Silverstone Circuit on February 10th.
Karthikeyan qualified 12th for his first race, the Australian Grand Prix. He finished 15th, two laps behind winner Giancarlo Fisichella, after a poor start that saw him drop to 18th by the end of the first lap. He scored his first points in the 2005 United States Grand Prix, which was cancelled due to a dispute over tyre safety. He came in fourth, ahead of both Minardi drivers but behind teammate Monteiro. Aside from the USGP, his best finish was 11th. In the 2005 Japanese Grand Prix free practise, he was the fastest for a long time before qualifying 11th. He qualified 15th for the 2005 Chinese Grand Prix.
Since the Jordan team was taken over and renamed Midland for the 2006 season, Karthikeyan’s future at the team was called into question. He announced near the end of 2005 that he would not be driving for Midland the following year due to their demand that he pay up to $11.7 million to secure his seat on the team. Karthikeyan tested for Williams in Spain on December 8, 2005, and finished fifth, outpacing the confirmed Williams second driver, Nico Rosberg, who finished ninth. Williams confirmed Karthikeyan as their fourth driver on January 27, 2006. He was to test for the team alongside Alexander Wurz, who had previously been confirmed as the team’s third driver.
Later that year, after Christijan Albers was fired from the Spyker (previously Jordan) Formula One team, he was linked with the team, though Sakon Yamamoto was given the drive. Due to Tata’s (Karthikeyan’s main sponsor) withdrawal of support for Williams F1, Nakajima was given the lion’s share of testing duties, and Karthikeyan was sidelined.
When Vijay Mallya bought out the Spyker F1 team at the end of 2007, Karthikeyan was linked with a drive with the new Force India Formula One team in 2008. He did not, however, get to test for the team. In January 2008, he was also linked to a drive with the Super Aguri team as part of an Indian consortium’s investment in the team. The agreement was not reached, and he continued to race for A1 Team India. Until the 2010 season, when Karun Chandhok signed with the Hispania Racing F1 Team, he was India’s only Formula One driver.
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