CHENNAI: Formula One, in a way, is all about dreams for those involved with it, not to mention the drivers. It no different for the wellknown Indian driver Narain Karthikeyan.
The first Indian to race in F1 has been nurturing a dream for years - to race in an F1 car in front of home fans. And come October 30, when Narain takes his Hispania Racing (HRT) car out for the inaugural Airtel Indian GP in Greater Noida, it will simply be the "most cherished moment" of the 34-year-old's racing career.
The HRT cars have improved a lot from the start of the season when Narain and his Italian teammate Vitantonio Luizzi struggled to get them to qualify for races, forget finishing . But even with the improved showing, Narain still does not want to make outlandish promises about the team's target at the Buddh International Circuit.
"To say that we will score our first points in Greater Noida will not be a realistic statement," says Narain.
"As you know, the cars have improved a lot since the first race in Malaysia. Updates were made even last weekend in Singapore. But I would say a realistic goal for us for the Indian GP would be to finish ahead of the three new teams and maybe a little higher.
"The main aim will be to take the car home and then push for a stronger finish and I believe with the home support we can do that easily and maybe more," adds Narain.
Financial constraints had forced HRT to juggle their drivers with Red Bull protege Daniel Ricciardo replacing Narain in the cockpit after the European Grand Prix in July. The midway switch with the Aussie means the Indian wouldn't have enough track time coming into Noida. NK, who got back in the driver's seat after a gap of two months at the Singapore Grand Prix last week, says he is happy the way he got back into rhythm after a long gap.
"I was just 0.1 of a second slower than Ricciardo during Friday practice. That is great considering I was away from the cockpit for a while. I will again be doing Friday runs in Japan and Korea before racing in India and I am sure of getting enough track time to be ready for the big show," says Narain.
The veteran driver believes the team has the right mix of youth and experience to push it further ahead and in a couple of seasons the Spanish outfit will transform into a competitive unit.
"The amount of improvements that has happened since the start of the year is awesome. We were struggling for funds but it was only because of Colin Kolles (team principal ) that things were kept running. Now we have new investors - Thesan Capital - in the team and I believe with their backing and the talent the team possesses, things are heading in the right direction for next season," says Narain.
The talent NK is talking about is a heady mix of youth and experience . "Tonio (Luizzi) has been around for a while now. He was there when I raced in 2005. He is technically very sound and gives good inputs to the mechanics. It's been a learning experience for me also driving alongside him," he says.
"Ricciardo, of course, is the one for the future, the blue-eyed boy of Red Bull. He is talented and has a bright future, especially with the backing of Red Bull. He will go a long way in F1, I am sure. "The team had new updates in Singapore but its real impact will be felt in Japan next week. I am sure the cars will run much stronger in Japan and thereafter. The team is also focusing on developing a stronger car for next season and that shows it has the right philosophy for Formula One," adds NK.