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Indian Motorsport, Narain Karthikeyan

Narain Karthikeyan Switches From Formula1 To Auto GP in 2013

Narain Karthikeyan Switches From Formula1 To AutoGP In 2013 (courtesy: AutoGP)
Posted: March 22, 2013 at 7:29 am   /   by   /   comments (14)

India’s first ever and most experienced Formula1 driver Narain Karthikeyan announced late last night that he would be competing in the Auto GP or the Auto GP World Series this weekend with Zele Racing. The first round of the championship will be held in Monza, Italy. My last post on Narain’s 2013 plans ‘Narain Karthikeyan To Drive For WilliamsF1 In 2013’ received good response and of course I classified it as ‘wishful thinking’!

Narain’s reason to choose the Auto GP (which was formerly known as Euro Formula 3000 or Euroseries 3000) was due to the fact that they have a new car for their 2013 season with a powerful Zytek engine (550bhp, 3.4 litre, V8). AutoGP has positioned itself as the best alternative (or stepping stone) to Formula1 and boasts of international racing presence across three continents (Europe, Africa and America). The series is expected to race at Formula1 venues like Monza, Hungaroring, Silverstone and Nurburgring this season.

Narain Karthikeyan Switches From Formula1 To AutoGP In 2013 (courtesy: AutoGP)

This announcement came as a slight surprise to me as I expected Narain to move to America and switch to Indy Cars. However, the announcement didn’t indicate whether Narain’s commitment to AutoGP is only for the opening round or for the entire season. A quick look at the driver entries for 2013 also indicates that Narain is by far the most experienced driver on the grid (and probably the oldest too!).

Narain’s team-mate will be the 22 year old reigning Formula2 champion Akshay Luciano Bacheta who is born to Indian parents with Italian ancestry. It will be interesting to see how the two compete against each other and the other grid of 13 drivers. And given Narain’s experience, I would certainly expect him to beat not just Bacheta but all the other drivers on the grid as well. Been quite a while since we saw him on the top step of a podium in any racing series! And of course, Romain Grosjean (yes, Lotus’ Crash Kid) was crowed series champion in 2010.

And given that Narain’s participation is basis an invitation from Zele Racing, I would be surprised if he’s paying for his drive. This also brings me to the question of whether TATA will support Narain’s switch to AutoGP. Given that they’ve backed him for more than a decade, I would be surprised if they didn’t.

For fans keen to follow Narain’s progress in Monza AutoGP, the official website offers ‘live timing’ and ‘live streaming’ options. The rules and points scoring system aren’t too different from Formula1 with a maximum of 48 points haul possible for a driver on a racing weekend. Will Narain be able to score the maximum?

Hear the 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix Preview PodcastNew Pecking Order Expected In Malaysia’.

Below links are content related to Narain Karthikeyan, TATA, Indian Motorsport and Formula1:

  1. Narain, TATA and Formula1
  2. Should Formula1 Use Live Streaming Too?
  3. Can Mahendra Singh Dhoni Be The Ambassador For Indian Motorsport?
  4. TATA Increases Investment In Karthikeyan, TATA Tea Enters Formula1

And come follow me on Twitter – Kunal Shah

  • Deepak

    5th place finish for Narain in 1st race.
    Hoping for a win/podium in the feature race @ Monza.

    But i still think he must switch to IndyCar or GP2 post Monza.

    • Thanks Deepak for the update. Did partially follow his race 1 progress yesterday. Doubt if GP2 is a possibility, given how expensive it is! Let’s wait and watch though.

  • LATESH

    AGREE WITH YOU ALL,, THAT FR3.5 & GP2 ARE MORE COMPETITIVE SERIES THAN AUTO GP.. BUT GUYS HAVE A LOOK AT THE COIN FROM A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE..
    THEY ARE BASICALLY FEEDER SERIES, BEST FOR THOSE WHO ARE ASPIRING FOR F1 DEBUT,, NOT F1 GRADUATES. SO IN MY OPINION , GOING FROM F1 TO GP2 OR FR3.5 WILL BE A SORT OF REVERSE GEAR.( THOUGH TIMO GLOCK{HIS TITLE WINNING I-SPORT DRIVE IN 2007, WILL BE AN EXCEPTION}
    , SAME WITH GIORGIO PANTANO WITH RACING ENGG. IN 2008}
    & EVEN ROMAIN GROSJEAN WITH ART IN 2010 )

    SO FOR A VARIETY NARAIN NEEDS TO BE IN A DIFF LEAGUE FROM ALL THESE , WHERE HE CAN SHINE AND RETURN BACK.

    CORRECT ME IF I’M WRONG PLEASE

  • Kedhar

    Yea I am, but these days with enough backing … one never knows and I certainly don’t think hell be back just based purely on what he does in AutoGP.

    • Let’s hope for the best for NK, Kedhar.

      Latesh, similar and dissimilar views all around. Frankly, it doesn’t matter much, don’t think NK can make a comeback anymore.

  • Kedhar

    IMO Narain has chosen this series to stay in the frame in Europe for possibly another well funded return to f1 next year and because a dominatin c’ship victory might put him in a good position.

    • Kedhar, I know you are a BIG NK fan, just like me possibly. However, I would highly doubt if he gets a third chance in the sport. May well be history in the making if he does…! Let’s hope!

  • @Murali . renault 3.5 and gp2 are not alternatives, they are feeder series to F1.
    The driver lineup for both is incredible for 2013.
    Super Formula would be a good alternative for Narain, or shifting to the states for Indy or moving past open wheel cars.
    Like you stated Kunal, sufficient amounts can be raised.
    All respect to Narain, but I really think this is way to low, even if its a free drive.

  • @Murali . renault 3.5 and gp2 are not alternatives, they are feeder series to F1.
    The driver lineup in both in incredible for 2013.
    Super Formula would be a good alternative for Narain, or shifting to the states for India or moving past open wheel cars.
    Like you stated Kunal, sufficient amounts can be raised.
    All respect to Narain, but I really think this is way to low, even if its a free drive.

    • Advait, whether a series is ‘feeder’ or ‘alternate’ depends from a driver’s point of view on his age and objective. Like BIA used FR3.5 as a feeder series to F1 (much like GRO did to the Euroseries 3000), KAR is seeing AutoGP as an alternate because he wishes to stick to open wheel racing. However, I would shudder if he doesn’t come out on top competing with drivers less than half of his experience.

    • Advait, whether a series is ‘feeder’ or ‘alternate’ depends from a driver’s point of view on his age and objective. Like BIA used FR3.5 as a feeder series to F1 (much like GRO did to the Euroseries 3000), KAR is seeing AutoGP as an alternate because he wishes to stick to open wheel racing. However, I would shudder if he doesn’t come out on top competing with drivers less than half of his experience.

  • Thanks for the quick update. Hope NK scores in Auto GP owing to his experience in F1!
    If Auto GP is a stepping stone to Formula one, how about Indycar? Although the race happens only in the USA and no international presence per se, Is it bigger than AUTO GP? or say, will a driver with same driving credentials given preference if he/she is from INDYCAR?

    Also good to know that ‘Grosjean’ did win something bigger in AUTO GP before becoming ‘Crashjean’ in F1 :)

  • Murali

    AutoGP best alternate to F1?? Not even close.. FR3.5 and GP2 are easily the best..look at the driver line-up even that will show you the top categories..however at the same time it is a good series but definitely not closest to F1

    • True Murali. I agree that it is certainly not the best, more so in terms of driver line-up. Which is why I have mentioned that AutoGP has positioned itself as the best alternative to F1. Maybe it is the cheapest alternative from whatever little I have read on the series.

      And I think the drive for NK is either very cheap or free (I think) for him to consider moving. While I understand that he might extend participation to the entire series, I would assume that a switch to Indy Cars would be a better move from him. However, that move too is dependent on the money he can raise (which you and I both know can be sufficient!).

      And thank you for your comment, always appreciate it.