Teamwork the key to success for A1 Team India in South Africa F1 test driver Narain Karthikeyan took part in his first A1GP street race today, in Durban, South Africa. The sun shone on the narrow and winding street track where an exciting and ...
Teamwork the key to success for A1 Team India in South Africa
F1 test driver Narain Karthikeyan took part in his first A1GP street race today, in Durban, South Africa. The sun shone on the narrow and winding street track where an exciting and eventful race unfolded, with the circuit proving to be too challenging for many. Karthikeyan suffered a series of unlucky incidents which hampered a weekend that had originally promised so much.
However, the team managed to salvage 15th in the Sprint race and ninth in the Feature race and most importantly, two valuable points. The weekend began well for the India team, with Karthikeyan setting the second fastest time in first practice, less than 48 hours after testing an F1 car for the Williams F1 Team.
A1 Team India were feeling positive ahead of A1GP's unique four segment qualifying session on Saturday, however the team's performance was compromised after an accident during Karthikeyan's first flying lap. Rejoining the track, Karthikeyan found the car's steering had been badly affected.
A1 Team India worked hard to ensure the orange, white and green car was fixed and ready to race in today's Sprint race, stripping the car and checking the various components. Believing the problem to be fixed, Karthikeyan chose to start the race from the pit lane rather than from his 21st grid slot, and managed to avoid a first corner incident which ended a number of team's races. After several more accidents and retirements, the Indian car finished the Sprint race in 15th, the position the team would take for the 70 minute Feature race.
While working on the car in between today's races, the team discovered the engine mountings were fractured. Unable to fix the problem on the India car in time, the team did an outstanding job to switch the gearbox, suspension and settings to a back-up A1GP car. With only minutes to spare the team made it on to the track for the Feature race grid. The Feature race was no less chaotic than the rest of the weekend, with the A1 Team India car the innocent victim in a first corner accident.
Recovering, Karthikeyan was running in 9th place when a driveshaft failure ended his race, three laps from the end. However, with more than a three lap gap to the next car, the team retained ninth place, ahead of A1 Team Pakistan.
A1 Team India driver, Narain Karthikeyan commented, "It was a disastrous weekend to be honest. A lot of it was out of our control, we were chasing a problem that was very difficult to solve. The engine mountings were broken, and by the time we found out, it was too late to fix our race car, so we had to use a spare instead.
"The spare car didn't feel quite right, it took me a couple of laps to get used to the handling, and it felt underpowered compared to my race car. It turned out to be unreliable as well, when the driveshaft broke just before the end of the race. But the team did a great job to get the car ready for the Feature race and we managed to collect a couple of points."
A1 Team India Seatholder Yohann Setna commented, "I think we've had the worst weekend of anyone here. Whatever could go wrong , went wrong. We shouldn't have anymore bad luck for the rest of the season! The boys did an absolutely super human job to get the car on the grid for the Feature race. The job was just mammoth. I think there's probably only a few teams in the pit lane that could have got the car ready in time. I'm so proud of the boys and the way Narain coped with all the problems.
"Narain got into trouble in the first corner of the Feature race, through no fault of his own, but managed to keep it out of the wall and I think it was probably his experience that helped him out of that situation. The car was handling very badly, it isn't ideal to go into a race with a spare car. But I think it says a lot about the team and Narain that after such a terrible weekend we can still come away with two points."
A1 Team India will take a four week break before the next round of the season in Mexico, on 25th March.