Narain Karthikeyan, the first Indian driver to compete in Formula 1, will return to the sport this season with Hispania Racing, the team today confirmed.
The 33-year-old, who last raced in F1 with Jordan in 2005, was also a test driver for Williams in 2006 and 2007. From 2007 until 2009 he competed for Team India in A1GP and in 2010 the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series as well as in the Superleague Formula in Europe.
Kartikeyan was also the first Indian to race in the Le Mans 24-hour race, finishing 7th overall.
Hispania are promising a ‘much improved and more competitive package’ in 2011 and will have gearbox technology supplied by Williams to look forward to in the coming season.
“It is a great pleasure for us to have signed Narain Karthikeyan as our race driver for the 2011 Formula 1 World Championship,” said Colin Kolles, the Team Principal at Hispania. “I have known Narain for a long time and he can revert to the experiences he gained when he was competing for Jordan Grand Prix and being test and reserve driver for Williams F1.
“Narain has also been driving in other racing series and running in one of the legendary Audi sports cars in the Le Mans Series. I am sure that his experience and speed will be very useful for the team during the season. We are welcoming Narain to our team and we look forward to working closely with him this year.”
Karthikeyan is delighted to be returning to F1 and, in particular, is looking forward to the inaugural grand prix in his home country. “It's been a while in the making, but I am extremely happy to be racing again in Formula 1 in 2011,” he said. “I have always maintained that I have not given up on my desire to return to the pinnacle of world motorsport. I am confident that I still have the pace, the fitness and the will to succeed in Formula 1.
“I'm looking forward to racing for Hispania Racing, and to working again with Dr. Colin Kolles. We have a long standing and excellent working relationship together. I'm also looking forward to racing at the first ever Indian Grand Prix in October, and I hope that the Indian public will spur me on with their blessings and good wishes.”
Hispania are yet to name who will partnering Karthikeyan, but are reportedly talking to a number of potential drivers to fill the second seat in 2011.