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Williams retain Karthikeyan for 2007 28 Sep 2006

Narain Karthikeyan (IND) Williams Fourth Driver.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, Monaco Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, 25 May 2006

Williams have confirmed the re-appointment of Narain Karthikeyan as one of their official test drivers for next year. The Indian, who previously raced for Jordan, joined the team at the start of this season.

Williams believe Karthikeyan will add a vital element of continuity to the team’s test and development programme as they form a new technical alliance with Toyota in 2007. Karthikeyan piloted the partnership’s first collaborative efforts on track at Silverstone earlier this month, with an interim car carrying the Toyota V8 and the new Williams gearbox, and will continue to spearhead the team’s intensive testing programme into 2007 with the launch of the FW29.

“Naturally as a racing driver, my first priority is to compete, but I would far rather test with a leading team than accept a race seat that offered no real potential to learn and develop,” said Karthikeyan. “Next season is extremely important for Williams with the new partners at Toyota. Williams is a team that exists only to race and I hope that whatever I can contribute to this ultimate objective will be valued by the team.”

As Formula One racing moves to a single tyre supplier for next season, Williams also feel that Karthikeyan’s detailed Bridgestone experience will be invaluable to the team, given his racing experience with the Toyota-powered Jordan and Bridgestone in 2005, as well as his 2006 testing with Williams.

Commenting on Karthikeyan’s re-appointment, team boss Frank Williams said: “Next year will be an important year for Williams with the transition to Toyota power and so it is now clear that we will be well positioned with the continuity and benefit of Narain’s experience. His appointment is extremely popular within the team because he is hard working, conscientious and capable in the car. It is also significant that Narain carries with him India’s growing Formula One interests, which is very exciting.”