Hailed as the fastest Indian in the world by the British Motoring Press, Kumar Ram Narain Karthikeyan is the Ist Formula One driver from India.
Born on January 14th 1977 in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, as the son of G. R. Karthikeyan, a former Indian National Rally Champion, Narain got his aspirations in motor sport from his father at an early age. Young Narain's aim was to become the first Formula one Driver from India, a feat he succeeded to achieve later in life. His first ever race was at Sriperumbudur near Chennai in a Formula Maruti at 16 years of age, which he finished on the podium. He took training at Elf Winfield Racing School, France, and became a Semi Finalist in the Pilote Elf Competition for Formula Renault Cars in 1992.
In 1993 he came back to India to participate in Formula Maruti and also competed in Formula Vauxhall Junior Championship in Great Britain. With this experience in European racing he returned to UK in 1994 for racing in Formula Ford Zetec Series as the No.2 driver for the foundation racing team. In that season he had to his credit a podium finish in a support race for the Portuguese Grand Prix held at Estoril. He went on to become the first Indian to win a Championship in Europe at the British Formula Ford Winter Series.
In 1995, Narain Karthikeyan, moved onto Formula Asia Championship for just four races, but proved his talent in the short spell by finishing second in the race at Shah Alam, Malaysia. In 1996 he completed a full season in the series and became the first Asian and Indian to win the Formula Asia International Series. 1997 saw him move back to UK to compete in the British Formula Opel Championship in which he took the Pole Position and had a win at Domington Park and also finished 6th in the overall point standing.
Narain Karthikeyan made his debut at the British Formula Three Championships in 1998 with Karlin Motor sport Team and had a moderately successful spell with them for the next three years. He managed to achieve two 3rd place finishes in the final two races of the season, by competing only in 10 rounds, at Spa Francor Champs and Silver Stone and finished 12th overall. In 1999, he continued the Championship finishing the podium five times including two wins at Brands Hatch Race. He also had two poll positions, three fastest laps and two lap records during the season and finished in the 6th position among 30 drivers in the Championships. The same year, he qualified in the 6th position in the Macau Grand Prix and finished 6th in the second leg of the race. In the year 2000, he continued in the British F3 Championship and finished 4th in overall standing, and also took pole position and the fastest lap in the Macau Grand prix. He also took the podium of the International F3 races at Spa Francor Champs, Belgium as well as in the Korean F3 Super Prix.
Narain, started 2001 in the Formula Nippon F3000 Championships and finished the year as one among the top ten. The same year, he test drew a Formula One Car at Silverstone on June14th for Jaguar Racing becoming the first ever Indian to achieve this feet. Impressed with his performance, he was asked to test drive the Benson & Hedges Jordan Honda EJ 11 again at Silverstone.
In 2002, he moved into the Telefonica World Series with Team Tata RC Motor sport, taking a pole position and setting the fastest non-F1 lap time at the Interlagos Circuit in Brazil. Moving to the World Series by Nissan in 2003, a series considered only next to Formula One, Karthikeyan won two races with the Minardi Teak and took three other podium positions on his way to 4th overall in the championship. This results earned him another Formula One test drive with Minardi. In 2004, he was offered a race drive, but was unable to raise the necessary sponsorship funds to seal the deal. He continued with the World Series by Nissan and won two races at Valencia in Spain and at Magny Cours in France.
In 2005, he was signed by the Jordan formula one team, making him India's first Formula One racing driver. He made an impressive debut at Melbourne, but the season was not a great success and he ended it with a crash at the Chinese Grandprix at Shanghai. At the end of the year, Jordan team was taken over by Midland for the 2006 season, and Narain looked elsewhere for work as he could not afford the amount they were demanding for his seat in the team. He ended up at Williams as a test driver in 2006. Williams confirmed Narain as their fourth driver in January 2006. He has remained with Williams in 2007 and has been promoted to third driver position and is participating in A1 grand Prix series. According to Narain, his decision to join Williams as a test driver rather than continue as a race driver with Jordan has helped him explore the intricacies of Formula One technology. His managers are now exploring the options with a couple of teams for him to be a race driver for the next season.
Besides racing cars, he loves Trap and Skeet Shooting, Wildlife Photography, Philanthropy and Tennis. He does weight training, yoga and meditation to keep fit. He is married to Pavarna, the daughter of an industrialist.
Narain has a come a long way and has made the country proud by achieving his ultimate goal of becoming India's first Formula one racer. He recently opened a motor racing academy 'Speed NK Racing' in Coimbatore and is doing his bit to train young Indian race drivers to break into the big league.
Today, he is a sports icon for the young Indians who look forward to compete in the Formula Series Races.Contact Now - E-mail