Frustrating weekend for India at the A1GP Mexico The ninth round of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport took place today, under sunny skies at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriquez circuit on the outskirts of Mexico City. Narain Karthikeyan was behind...
Frustrating weekend for India at the A1GP Mexico
The ninth round of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport took place today, under sunny skies at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriquez circuit on the outskirts of Mexico City. Narain Karthikeyan was behind the wheel for his third A1GP event, but it was another tough race for the F1 test driver. The team struggled to find a good set-up throughout the weekend, but salvaged an 11th place finish in the Sprint race. Fortunes turned in an incident filled Feature race, which saw the team cross the line in 18th.
Nevertheless, Karthikeyan set the second fastest lap of the race. Karthikeyan lined up 17th for the 12 lap Sprint race and had a good start to avoid a first corner incident and make up two places. The Chennai born racer fought boldly to defend his position while still suffering with handling issues, as well as taking any opportunity to improve his position further.
The team went on to cross the line in 11th, the position Karthikeyan would take for the main race. The team opted for a conservative approach to the Feature race, after the drama of the start line incidents in the Sprint race and by the first corner Karthikeyan had dropped a few positions.
With many other experienced drivers fighting further down the field, Karthikeyan had an intense and well fought battle with former Brazilian Champ Car driver Bruno Junqueira, who had previous experience of the circuit. Both cars made contact forcing Karthikeyan off track, and in this incident the car's front tyres were damaged.
Forced to pit for another set of tyres, A1 Team India lost further track position, but rejoined to show the team's true potential, setting the second fastest lap of the race.
Commenting on his weekend, Karthikeyan said, "The Feature race start was really bad, the car just bogged down and we seemed to have a long first gear on the car which caught me out a bit. I had a good battle with Junqueira, but when he tried to pass me about seven laps in, we made contact and I went off track and damaged the tyres. That then exaggerated the understeer we had been suffering from and I had to pit for more tyres. Pace wise we weren't too bad; we set some good sector times and the second fastest lap of the race. "In New Zealand everything looked good and we thought we would be challenging the front runners, but we seem to have struggled since then. As a team we need to sit down and work out a strategy. I'm here to be a front runner and feel confident in the car; I'm not here to run around at the back. Things have to change quickly."
A1 Team India Seatholder Yohann Setna added, "The Sprint race went well, we benefited from a couple of teams making mistakes, and although Narain had to back off on the front straight to avoid the first lap incident, we still finished 11th which was a better position for the second race. "We didn't have a great start in the Feature race, and it was very difficult to claw back track position. Narain had a great fight with Bruno, which was good to see between such experienced racers.
"This is a disappointing result, but actually it has motivated the team more. We know the team can do it, and obviously Narain has the pace and ability to be a front runner and finish on the podium, so we are now focusing all our effort on Shanghai."
With the season entering its final stages, A1 Team India will take a three week break before making its second visit to China, for the penultimate round of 2006/07. Indian racer Karthikeyan is familiar with the Shanghai International Circuit, having previously competed there as an F1 driver.
-credit: team india