Jehan Daruwala has potential to become F1 racer: Karthikeyan

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Chennai: India’s first F1 driver Narain Karthikeyan has revealed that the European Le Mans series, which he for long wants to participate in, is a “bucket-list item” which he wishes to accomplish in the near future. Narain’s desire to compete in the grueling ’24 hours of Le Mans’ had ended abruptly in 2009 when he suffered an injury on the eve of race day, leading to disqualification.

This year, the race is scheduled to be held on June 13 and 14 at the Circuit de la Sarthe in France.

“Yes, that is one of my ‘bucket-list’ items, but I doubt it will happen in 2020,” Narain told IANS in an exclusive interview.

Last year, the 43-year-old competed in the SuperGT series in Japan, switching from a career driving single-seater race cars that helped him build his fame and fortune.

In the last race of the season, driving for Nakajima Racing, Narain won in his Honda NSX-GT under testing conditions, claiming his first win since the 2013 Auto GP.

“The switch to sports cars after more than 20 years in single-seaters was quite exciting. Any new challenge is always a good thing. The highlight of my season was the most recent win in Fuji at the SuperGT x DTM Dream Race,” said Narain while speaking about his experience in 2019.

“It was an incredibly exciting race with 3 safety car periods and mixed weather conditions. So to win under those circumstances is always super satisfying,” he added.

He also believes Jehan Daruwala can make it to Formula 1 if given the right guidance. The 21-year-old from Mumbai was recently signed onto the Red Bull junior team (whose earlier graduates include Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo, and Max Verstappen).

“Jehan Daruwala is a very good driver. He’s had a very impressive career so far in karting and the junior formulae. I’ve watched him race and I think with the right guidance, and of course the right results, he could be in Formula 1 in the not so distant future.”

The F1 driver further gave his opinion as to why the Buddh International Circuit (BIC), which was built for the Indian GP that was held in 2011, has not been able to host another race.

According to him, the government needs to support the sport for its revival in India.

“There were many reasons behind the demise of the Indian Grand Prix, but primarily they were commercial ones. For F1 to come back to India, it will need a lot of government support.

“Like all other sports, motorsport needs to grow from the grassroots upwards and for that to happen, it needs the support from Corporate India,” he added.

Narain further weighed in on the debate of who between Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, is a better F1 racer.

“I think that Hamilton has shown that he has got the upper hand in that battle. He has made only one or two mistakes over the past few years,” said Narain.

“He always recovers from a poor race result with an incredible comeback. I think he’s a more complete driver for sure.”

Talking about his association with Usha International, Narain said: “It is a matter of great pride for me to be the brand ambassador for Usha International, which is one of India’s most loved and trusted brands.”

March 4 (IANS)

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