Narain Karthikeyan will race for the HRT F1 Team again this season, filling the final space on the 2012 Formula 1 grid.
The Indian returned to an F1 race seat at the start of 2011 with the Spanish team, after five years away. He was replaced at Silverstone by Daniel Ricciardo, but did return to the cockpit for a one-off at his home grand prix. There he impressed with his pace in the HRT on his way to finishing in 17th place.
35-year-old Karthikeyan joins 40-year-old Spaniard Pedro de la Rosa at HRT, forming what is easily the oldest driver partnership on the grid.
“It has taken a lot of hard work to make this happen but I am absolutely elated to feature on the 2012 grid with HRT F1 Team,” said Karthikeyan. “I was pleased with our strong performance at the Indian Grand Prix, in front of my passionate home fans and I look forward to building on this result in 2012.
“I have been training hard since the end of 2011, ensuring I was ready for the rigours of F1 if an opportunity arose. I am delighted to have signed with HRT F1 Team. With the new management, Pedro, and the team, there is definite potential for progress.
“We need to understand that F1 is new to India, we hosted our first race only last year which was a resounding success. To build on that momentum, an Indian driver will certainly keep the interest engaged throughout the season. I am proud to secure an opportunity to forge a stronger connection between India and Formula 1 once again.”
De la Rosa will be in action for the team at the first pre-season test at Jerez next week, with Karthikeyan joining up at the second test at Barcelona.
New HRT team principal Luis Perez-Sala said that Karthikeyan's signing will help give stability to the team has it goes through changes behind the scenes.
“I am pleased to count with Narain for this season, as he will contribute continuity and stability,” said Perez-Sala. “He is a quick, intuitive and secure driver who met his expectations despite a lack of continuity last year.
“Of the eight Grands Prix he contested in 2011, he only failed to finish on one occasion and had a great performance in the last race he took part in. I'm sure that the fact that he will continue to work and drive on a regular basis will help him take a step forward this season. And if he advances, so does the team. This is a year in which you could say that the team starts from scratch and everyone's input will be fundamental.”