I have had very few regrets in life: Karthikeyan

New Delhi, PTI | Updated : 22 July 2013, 07:18 PM

Adversities have made him a stronger person and that's precisely the reason why Narain Karthikeyan doesn't find any lack of motivation after switching over to Auto GP from Formula One as he aims to win the championship this season.

Karthikeyan takes a lot of pride in the way he defied odds in the challenging and financially demanding world of motorsport and found a foothold for himself.

All his struggle culminated in taking him to the pinnacle of the sport - F1 - in 2005. He drove for Hispania in 2011 and 2012 but when the team withdrew from the grid last season, Karthikeyan began his stint in AutoGP, where he initially raced for Zele Racing before switching to Super Nova.

Is he a satisfied person in terms of professional success?

"I am quite satisfied, and have very few regrets. Nothing came easy, especially in motorsport as there was absolutely no awareness in India when I started out," Karthikeyan said.

"Whatever I have achieved, it has been because of my hard work and nothing else. No one handed out any favours, and being a coloured driver racing in UK and Europe during my early days was more difficult than you'd think in modern times."

"The only thing I am somewhat sorry about is crashing out of the Macau Formula 3 GP in 2000, after starting on pole and leading the race by several seconds. I was the fastest driver all weekend, and but for that crash I would have made it to the F1 grid much before than I finally did in 2005.

"But apart from that, I am satisfied with how things have turned out. I never give up and at times I've always made it against all odds and expectations. I have no doubts in my ability and that is what has taken me this far," he said.

After driving in the most demanding series, is there anything that he he has learnt about racing in Auto GP?

"Obviously, the cars are less hi-tech than F1 but it is still a very powerful single-seater with good downforce. When you have far younger drivers to match up to and beat, you are always learning and trying to find that extra tenth, which means you're always improving. It is less about strategy and more about driving and finding an advantage vis-a-vis your opposition," he said.

Karthikeyan said the format of racing in Auto GP is such that it makes it challenging for everyone. The sense of competitiveness keeps him motivated for the races.

"The format is more of a sprint and we have only a single pit-stop and the races aren't too long. But unlike F1 where you are usually in a race of your own after the first pit-stop, especially in my situation at HRT where we had no one to race with, the AutoGP races are on the limit from start to the flag.

"You're always in the pack, fighting with cars around and pushing 100 percent all the time as we don't have to worry about conserving tyres and so on. So it is all about speed and racecraft right to the finish line and it is something I truly enjoy," he said.

"It is all about the driver - that is my foremost satisfaction. If I do well it is me, same if I don't. Barring a mechanical issue or a pit-stop delay, there isn't anything else you can go out and blame for a bad result.

"There are some exceptionally quick drivers that I am competing against and everyone has the same equipment and thus the same chance to win. So when I am able to nail that pole lap or finish on the podium, I get immense satisfaction."

Karthikeyan is fourth in the Drivers' Championship with 96 points, 42 adrift of leader Sergio Campana. He had consecutive victories in Silverstone and Mugello.

Asked what his future would be in racing after the current season, the 36-year-old racer said he was not looking much ahead and all his energies were into winning the Auto GP championship this year.

"This year, I am fully concentrating on finishing the AutoGP World Series, and hopefully winning the championship despite the bout of bad luck we had in the first three races.

"It is going to be difficult but along with my new team Super Nova we are going to push till the end and we'll see what happens. Being competitive and flying our flag high at the world level is what keeps me motivated to keep pushing."

Technical issues have always chased Karthikeyan. After his Hispania days, he has faced some problems in Auto GP also but the Indian racer is not complaining.

After grabbing pole in Mugello for the first race he was forced to start from last due to technical issue but eventually finished third.

"As I see it, it is a part of the sport. Drivers are always dependent on the machine but yes I do agree that I've had maybe slightly more bad luck than the others. But I always think ahead and try to put the setbacks behind me as things could have always ended up worse.

"I had a huge accident in Abu Dhabi last year and was able to walk away from it, it could've been far worse. At Mugello, the stakes weren't as high, but if the cable had broken at the start instead of the out lap, we would have been out of the race no doubt. So things like these are always round the corner - it's a part of the game," he said.

First Published: Monday, July 22, 2013 07:08 PM
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