F1. The very word is enough to set the pulse racing of motorsport enthusiasts the world over. Undisputedly the most gruelling of all races, it is every racing champion’s ultimate dream destination. The Formula One track has been witness to some of the greatest, and the fastest, that motorsport has produced, the likes of which include Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher, Mika Hakkinen, Jacques Villeneuve, David Coulthard, and so on...But not until 2005 would the Indian tricolour hold place of pride as an entire nation’s expectations took to the tracks...
Narain Karthikeyan’s name will go down in the history of Motorsport as the first Indian to compete in the coveted Formula 1. The pinnacle of motorsport, F1 has room only for the best 20 in the world, and Narain’s presence only goes to show his calibre at the world level.
Narain’s journey from Formula 3 to Formula One was the inevitable outcome of his sheer determination to live a lifelong dream. Inking a deal with the Jordan F1 team, he made a dream debut in Melbourne on the 6th of March, 2005, out-qualifying 7 times World Champion Michael Schumacher to start 12th on the grid. He went on to finish 15th in the race, indeed an impressive feat for a F1 first-timer. Adding yet another feather to his cap of ‘firsts’, he became the first Indian to score World Championship points in a Formula One race, when he finished 4th in the United States Grand Prix.
By the end of the year, Narain was eagerly pursued by several F1 teams for a drive in 2006. Multiple world-title winning Williams F1 team, spotting his undeniable talent and ability to develop the performance of a race car, offered him a position as their official test driver for 2006. He conducted over twenty thousand kilometres of testing for the team and provided them with invaluable data towards improvement of their race car.
For Narain, it was one more formula to place India on the roadmap to sporting glory...
The world motorsport arena was greeted by a new concept in 2005 when A1GP “World Cup of Motorsport” staged its impressive debut. It is a championship which pits nation against nation on a level playing field, making it a clear case of being the best among equals. With national pride at stake, the teams and drivers are all racing against each other as global ambassadors of their nation.
Since embarking upon this challenge, Narain Karthikeyan has proven that his driving talent and motivation to succeed are second to none. He has brought the ultimate glory of victory to the nation thrice - Zhuhai, China 07-08, Brands Hatch, UK 07-08 and Brands Hatch, UK 08-09. Bringing home two gold medals and a silver, he has been responsible for the sounds of Jana Gana Mana, our beloved national anthem ringing out to a live worldwide television audience of tens of millions of viewers.
The Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, personally applauded Narain Karthikeyan on his victories, saying “he is a true representative of India’s young spirit, and he has set an example for the entire motorsports fraternity of India to follow.”