Narain Karthikeyan described the third and most recent round of the Japan based Super Formula Series as one of the ‘craziest’ races he has ever been in. India’s first Formula 1 driver’s seventh place finish was anything but straightforward, much like the way the season has progressed for him so far.
After qualifying eleventh, Karthikeyan took a gamble 45 laps into the 55 lap race when rain started to lash the Fuji Speedway. He kept his faith on his renowned wet weather prowess to run with slick tyres on a wet track as other drivers peeled into the pits to change for wet weather rubber.
The thinking was that the rain would relent and the track would be suitable for dry weather tyres right at the end.
After picking off cars to climb up to third the gamble seemed to have paid off; much as the move to Super Formula and competing against a field of ex-Formula 1 drivers and Le Mans 24 Hours winners seemed to have paid off in the opening round at Suzuka when Karthikeyan qualified second.
A failure to convert that second place in Suzuka and finishing only seventh at round three in Fuji after having risen as high as third, however, is more indicative of the tumultuous start of Karthikeyan’s debut in the fastest single seat racing series outside of F1.
Still, it would come as some consolation to Karthikeyan that his Team Impul teammate Joao Pao de Oliveira failed to finish the race and that he has now notched up three straight points scoring finishes. De Oliveira has been racing single seaters in Japan since 2006 and won the Super Formula title in 2010, when it was known as Formula Nippon.
One hopes Karthikeyan continues getting to grips with his latest single seat adventure before the time comes to call it quits.