Narain Karthikeyan Q&A: I must learn from De la Rosa 16 Aug 2012
HRT have gone through a major restructuring process in recent months, with a new base, new staff and new drivers. Through it all, one name has remained constant: Narain Karthikeyan, now in his second year with the Spanish team, whose experience has been vital in consolidating and evolving the F112. The Indian looks back on the first half of 2012, admitting his qualifying speed needs to improve - and that he still has plenty to learn from veteran team mate Pedro de la Rosa
Q: This is your second season with HRT Formula 1 Team and you know better than anyone how much the team has changed. It wont have been easy but what has this change been like?
Narain Karthikeyan: The change has been a big one but also a progressive one. Now the entire team is under the same roof and the facilities are really fantastic; anyone who visits them will see the intentions of a very serious Formula One team. I give full marks to the management who put this together and I feel very fortunate to form a part of this team which is growing. Weve still got a lot to do but were making steady progress.
Q: Weve completed just over half of the races, how would you assess this first part of the season?
NK: I think that my race performance has been very strong, with my 15th place in Monaco standing out, but in qualifying Ive been a bit weaker. Right now Im about three-tenths behind Pedro and thats something I have to improve in this second half, no doubt about it. The tyres have been quite difficult to get used to and Pedro has a lot of experience with Pirelli and McLaren. Hes a very good driver who hardly makes mistakes and I must learn from him to improve.
Q: Both the team and the car are new, what has surprised you most about each one?
NK: We knew the car would be pretty basic but Ive been surprised by its reliability and I think it has potential to improve. And the team has surprised me even more because renewing almost 85 percent of the staff isnt easy and I think that we have a very good combination of people with a lot of experience in F1 and young people with a lot of hunger. But everyone is very professional and its a real pleasure working with them.
Q: How would you define or what would you highlight about your team mates?
NK: Pedro is a fantastic driver with a lot of experience; hes very consistent but also quick. Dani (Clos) and Ma (Qing Ha) are young talented drivers with a lot to learn, but also really nice guys. Were a small united family and we really enjoy working together.
Q: The start wasnt easy but the progress has been evident. What mark out of ten would you give yourself this season?
NK: We all know that the start should have been better in normal circumstances, but with the changes that had to be made and other things we inherited, it wasnt possible. To make it to Australia with the car on time was an achievement in itself. Weve moved on from that and have progressed a lot. For now I give myself a six or a seven, and if I improve my results in qualifying, then an eight or a nine.
Q: Your performance at your home Grand Prix in India last season was fantastic. Having enjoyed more continuity and confidence, what are your expectations for this year?
NK: The car will have evolved a bit more come the Indian Grand Prix so I think I will put in a better performance than last year. Its obviously my favourite race and we will try to do our best there. My expectations are always high and we will aim to improve on last years 17th position.
Q: It was something completely new in India and, as a result, the Grand Prix was a complete success in terms of assistance. Whats the atmosphere like this year?
NK: After last years success, everyone that missed the spectacle is eager to come this time round. Promotions for the race have started early this year and Ill do my bit to help out. The Jaypee Group have done a tremendous job putting all of this together and its going to be a complete success again.
Q: What would you say has been the best moment of the season so far?
NK: Probably Monaco. Pedro had a very good qualifying session and I had a very good race, finishing 15th. I think that, from the teams perspective, Monaco has been the best race so far.
Q: What would you consider to be a successful season once the championship is over?
NK: From where we are now, it would be great to match and beat my team mate Pedro who has been a good benchmark. Added to that, if we finish ahead of Marussia in the championship standings that would be a successful season.
Q: Finally a well-earned break before taking on an intense second half of the season. What are your plans for the holidays?
NK: Im not really taking a holiday now because Ive got a lot of activities to attend, so Ill have to wait until the championship ends. I hope to have a small gap to spend some time with my family in India and train hard. The season has been quite intense and you dont get the chance to train in the gym every day because youre constantly travelling and living in hotels. So I will work on my fitness in the gym and come back ready to continue at the highest level.
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