New Delhi: This might be the first time when India is hosting a Formula One race, but Indian roots were already there in the F1 circuit. India’s journey to F1 started by veteran Indian racer Narain Karthikeyan and was later followed by Karun Chandhok.

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The ‘Formula’ behind Formula One

Although the Grater Noida in north India has got the opportunity to host the first F1 race in India, the south Indian city of Chennai has sown the seeds of racing as both the speedstars hail from this high-tech city.   

Let’s have a brief look at the time line of these Indian speedstars.

Narain Karthikeyan


Born on 14 January 1977, in Madras, Kumar Ram Narain Karthikeyan is the first driver form India to hit the F1 circuit.

He has previously competed in A1GP, and the Le Mans Series. He made his Formula One debut in 2005 with the Jordan team, and was a WilliamsF1 test driver in 2006 and 2007 season.

Like several other former F1 drivers, Karthikeyan moved to stock car racing and drove the #60 Safe Auto Insurance Company Toyota Tundra for Wyler Racing in the 2010 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. In 2011 he has driven for the Hispania Racing team in Formula One.

On February 1, 2005 Karthikeyan announced that he had signed the preliminary deal with Jordan Formula One team and said that he would be their main driver for the 2005 Formula One season, thus making him India's first Formula One racing driver. His partner was the Portuguese driver, Tiago Monteiro.

Karthikeyan completed the necessary testing distance of 300 km in an F1 car in order to gain his superlicence at the Silverstone Circuit on 10 February.

In his first race, the Australian Grand Prix, Karthikeyan qualified in 12th position. After a poor start which saw him drop to 18th place by the end of the first lap, Karthikeyan finished in 15th, two laps behind winner Giancarlo Fisichella.

He achieved his first points in the 2005 United States Grand Prix under farcical circumstances as all but three teams pulled out due to an argument over tyre safety. Karthikeyan finished fourth, finishing ahead of the two Minardi drivers but behind team mate Monteiro.

At the 2005 Chinese Grand Prix he qualified in 15th place, very close in times to many of the top teams. In an unlucky end to his 2005 season, Karthikeyan crashed his Jordan into a wall at the Chinese race, but was unhurt and able to give an interview afterwards.

Because the Jordan team was taken over and renamed Midland for the 2006 season, the management change prompted some doubt over Karthikeyan's future at the team.

Later in 2007, he was linked with the Spyker (previously Jordan) Formula One team after their driver Christijan Albers was fired, although Sakon Yamamoto got the drive. Due to the withdrawal of support from Tata (Karthikeyan's main sponsor) of Williamsf1, Nakajima was given the lion's share of testing duties and Karthikeyan was sidelined.

When the Spyker F1 team was bought out by Vijay Mallya towards the end of 2007, Karthikeyan had been linked with a drive with the new Force India Formula One team in 2008.

On 6 January 2011, Karthikeyan announced that he would drive for the Hispania team in the 2011 season, following five years away from active involvement in the championship.

On 30 June 2011, Karthikeyan was replaced by Daniel Ricciardo for the remaining races of the season except the Indian Grand Prix but participated in Friday first practice in Germany, Singapore, Japan and Korea.

Karun Chandhok


Born on January 19, 1984 in Madras, Karun Chandhok is an Indian racing driver, who made his début for Hispania Racing in open cockpit motor racing formula, Formula One in 2010.

Before this, he drove in GP2 Series for three years, winning two races.

Prior to his time in GP2, Chandhok won the Formula Asia championship in 2001 and was the inaugural Formula Asia V6 by Renault champion in 2006.

In 2000, Chandhok was Indian National Racing Champion winning seven out of ten races in the Formula Maruti series.

In 2001 Chandhok was the Formula 2000 Asia champion, becoming the youngest ever Asian Formula Champion, driving for Team India Racing.

With Karthikeyan moving on to Formula One in 2005, Chandhok raced part-season in the revised Formula Renault 3.5 Series with RC Motorsport. He was the first driver to represent A1 Team India in A1 Grand Prix at the beginning of the 2005–06 season.

In 2006 he became champion of the first ever Formula Asia V6 by Renault Championship, taking seven race wins and nine pole positions from 12 races.

Chandhok driving for iSport International at the Silverstone round of the 2008 GP2 Series season.

Chandok got his biggest career break in November with a call up from the Red Bull Racing Formula One team to test for them over two days at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona on 13–14 November.

In November, Chandhok became the first Indian driver to be invited to join the British Racing Drivers' Club. India's membership of the Commonwealth entitles him to be a member.

On March 22, 2011, Chandhok was confirmed as a reserve driver at Team Lotus for the 2011 season. He drove the car in free practice for the Australian Grand Prix, crashing out on the installation lap. After driving in a further three free practice sessions he replaced Jarno Trulli for the German Grand Prix.

He finished 20th and last, two laps behind teammate Heikki Kovalainen and a lap behind 19th placed Daniel Ricciardo. He was also 4 laps behind race winner Lewis Hamilton.

(Amit Kumar/JPN)