Vantage point

Friday, February 04, 2005

Three Cheers for Narain

Narain Karthikeyan has done it. He has cracked into the elite Formula-1, with the confirmation of the same from the Jordan team.

Coming from a country like India, with comparitively negligible motorsports, and getting into F-1 is a stupendous achievement. If I had to give the uninitiated an idea of the sheer scale of this achievement, I would compare it with reaching the semi finals of Wimbledon, or qualifying for the Football World Cup Finals.

There have been numerous false starts for Narain. The most memorable one was his much hyped test drive for Jaguar a few seasons back. Then there was talk of flirting with Minardi, the perpetual minnows in F1.

Jordan themselves have slipped to being minnows. They finished 9th out of 10 teams last season. But the team has seen better days. Their last grand prix win came a couple of seasons back, and in 1999, Heinz-HaraldFrentzen, driving for the team, was neck and neck with Irvine and Hakkinen with a couple of races to go, and eventually finished third in the driver's tally.

Jordan, which used a Honda engine for many years is now going to use a Toyota engine, and considering the decent performance of the Toyotas in the last two seasons, it would suffice to say that Karthikeyan would have a decent car to make his debut in.

Karthikeyan's leap into the top league will serve as a big boost for F1 in India, and its following will grow at even more rapid speed. Plus having an Indian driver on the grid would give the FIA one more reason to push for an Indian Grand Prix.

Most importantly, Narain has opened the door for the Karun Chandoks and Parthiv Sureswarans of this world who will have an example to follow, and break into F1.

Go Narain!