Shanghai: Team India race report

Indian progress hampered by first lap incident in A1GP Shanghai, China The bad luck that has plagued A1 Team India in recent rounds was still evident today, when the team suffered from a first lap incident in the A1GP Shanghai Feature race. The...

Indian progress hampered by first lap incident in A1GP Shanghai, China

The bad luck that has plagued A1 Team India in recent rounds was still evident today, when the team suffered from a first lap incident in the A1GP Shanghai Feature race. The team began the weekend well, setting times consistently in the top four all weekend, and qualifying fifth for the Sprint race. Karthikeyan went on to bring the Indian car home in seventh place, just outside the points. However, a great start in the second race of the day was soon spoilt by contact with another car, the long term damage of which led to Karthikeyan's retirement on the last lap of the Feature race.

Karthikeyan had a good start from his fifth place grid slot for the 10 lap Sprint race, but as the field closed up to head round turn one, the India racer was squeezed and A1 Team Switzerland found a way past. Karthikeyan then came under attack from Alex Yoong and the two former F1 racers enjoyed a battle for position, with the Malaysian car finally finding a way past India.

Karthikeyan maintained his position to equal the team's previous best finish and cross the line seventh. With points only awarded for the top six in A1GP's sprint race, the team were left to hope for points in the Feature race.

Taking his finishing position from the Sprint race as his grid slot for the Feature race, Karthikeyan lined up seventh for the second race of the day. The A1 Team India driver had a good start to pass the Malaysian car off the grid, but as the cars filed through the tight first corner, the Indian car made contact with the Swiss and South African cars. The damage sustained in this first lap accident would eventually end India's race.

Speaking about his weekend, Karthikeyan said, "The Sprint race was ok, but it was frustrating to finish just out of the points. The Feature race was a bit more dramatic! On the first lap, someone hit me and my car was damaged. Obviously the floor and the side pod were damaged, but I couldn't tell how bad it was from inside the car. Then after a piece of the side pod came off, the car became very imbalanced and difficult to drive; it lost a lot of downforce and was slow down the straights. We were just going backwards so the team called me in and we changed the body work. Then on the last lap, I came around the final corner and the car just snapped to the left, there was nothing I could do and it hit the tyre barrier, I think something broke on the car. My races in China don't seem to go well, I always seem to walk away from a destroyed car!

"I hope our luck changes in Brands Hatch, I like the circuit and I've won races there before, but we'll have to see, you never know with racing."

A1 Team India seatholder Yohann Setna was equally disappointed after a good start to the weekend, "The Feature race was very frustrating, Narain managed to get past Malaysia at the start, but I think there was some contact between us, Switzerland and South Africa. When Narain came in for the pit stop we could see there was a crack on the side pod, but it was still intact. Obviously the vibrations through the car exaggerated the crack and a huge section fell off which badly affected the handling and straight line speed, which is why we were losing a place every lap. During the third safety car period we took the decision to bring the car in and change the side pod to try and salvage something from the weekend by going for the fastest lap. But coming out of the last chicane something seemed to break on the car, maybe the suspension, which could have been a long term result of the contact with South Africa earlier in the race.

"Looking to the next race, Brands Hatch is a good track for Narain and we're looking to finish the season on a high note. We've had more than our fair share of bad luck; it's about time some good fortune came our way."

A1 Team India will next head to Great Britain for the final event in this 11 round season. Karthikeyan has won a number of races at the Brands Hatch circuit in his career, and should be a front runner in the season finale. With a strong Indian community in Britain, A1 Team India car expect to see some patriotic support in the grandstands of the British circuit on 29 April.

-credit: team india

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About this article
Series A1GP
Drivers Alex Yoong