Williams F1 Team test driver, "The Fastest Indian in the World", Narain Karthikeyan, will race for A1 Team India at Taupo, New Zealand, in the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport this weekend.
Karthikeyan brings to the Indian team a wealth of racing experience. His career spans over ten years of competition and during this time he has risen through the ranks, learning his race craft in the junior Formulae before graduating to Formula One in 2005 with the Jordan Grand Prix team.
A national sporting hero in India, he says of joining A1 Team India, "I'm very proud to drive for my country in A1GP. I've been following the team's fortunes since the start of the Series. Frank Williams has kindly agreed for me to race, but my Formula 1 testing duties for Williams will always be my number 1 priority. I am very thankful for Sir Frank's support and feel very privileged to be in Formula One, but like all racing drivers I want to race fast cars. In recent months, I have had several offers to drive in America and Japan, but I chose A1GP because the race schedule does not clash with my Formula 1 commitments.
"I hope that I can help A1 Team India improve its performance in the Series, as well as heighten its profile back home. I know that I'm joining the Series part way through the second season and many teams have been working with experienced drivers since the start. If I can accelerate the learning curve for the team and we can make progress, possibly scoring some points, I'll be very pleased."
Yohann J Setna, A1 Team India Seatholder, adds, "We're extremely delighted that Narain is joining A1 Team India in New Zealand . Narain will bring invaluable experience to the team and we are confident we can provide him with a competitive package, which we hope will help him secure a Formula One race drive in the future. I know that he will be an excellent asset to us and I'm sure he's going to enjoy the unique environment of A1GP. The nation will take great pride in watching Narain driving for his country in New Zealand and I hope it will be the first of many outings for him this season and in the future."
Born in the Southern Indian city of Chennai, Karthikeyan developed his interest in racing from his father, a keen rally competitor. He began his motor racing education at the Elf Winfield School and quickly progressed through the junior racing Formulae, becoming the first Indian to win the British Formula Ford Winter series in 1994. He followed this by taking the Formula Asia Championship title in 1996. Moving back to the UK he competed and won races in the British F3 Series.
Narain became the first Indian to test a Formula One car in 2001, testing a Jaguar R1 at Silverstone, while he also competed in the World Series by Nissan. Jordan Grand Prix recognised the young Indian's talents and heralding a new and exciting era in his home country's motorsport heritage, the team signed him to drive one of their F1 entrants in 2005. In 2006 Narain moved to Williams F1 Team as Test Driver and he continues in this role for 2007.
A1 Team India has competed in A1GP since its inception and in this new style of competition has won the hearts of its country, as they enthusiastically support their home nation in the Series that pits country against country during a season of international events across the globe.