Karthikeyan ahead of his hero
India's Narain Karthikeyan never dreamed of leading seven times World Champion Michael Schumacher in his very first Grand Prix.

Yet that is on the cards in Sunday's Australian season-opener, unless he suffers a bitter blow in final qualifying, after the Melbourne weather played into his hands on Saturday and rained on Schumacher's hopes.

India's first Grand Prix driver put his Jordan ninth on the provisional grid in a first qualifying session turned into a lottery by a sudden downpour.

He was the highest-placed runner on Bridgestone tyres and his time was 13.5 seconds faster than Ferrari's Schumacher, who was 18th after his prospects were wrecked by heavy rain just before his warm-up lap.

The grid will be decided by aggregate times after Sunday's final qualifying.

"On paper it looks nice," Karthikeyan said of the prospect of being ahead of Schumacher, even if the lead proves short-lived.

"It's not what I expected but I'll do my job," he told Reuters. "He's going to be a lot faster than us for sure and he can find a way around me.

"Maybe he will be on a different strategy and the Ferrari is a lot quicker on the straight than us as well," he added. "He knows what to do for sure, he's a great guy."

Karthikeyan has long been an admirer of the German, who also started his career with Jordan in 1991, and has spoken to him several times already on his first weekend in the paddock.

"I looked up to him before I came in Formula One, he was one of my heroes, and now racing against him is just a great feeling," he said.

The 28-year-old, one of four rookies making their debuts on Sunday, had a ragged drive around the Albert Park circuit on a drying track.

"I'm a little bit tired. I think it's more mental stress than anything else," he said. "Today was a bit hard because you are thinking about the race and also I have still not got over the jet lag from England.

"I have been waking up at five o'clock but nevertheless it's been a very enjoyable day today. A bit tricky conditions but it all came together and I'm happy to have done a decent job. I try and push a lot," he added.

"I put a lot of pressure in myself because that's the way I am. India has been watching me for a long time, for years now, but now it is on a much bigger scale. I'm used to it so I think that won't affect me much."

A huge Indian audience is expected to tune in for Sunday's race and Karthikeyan admitted he could not get that thought out of his head.

"On my slowing down lap I could see myself on the big TV screen and I thought to myself in India it must be eight in the morning and everybody will have been watching and it felt good."

He warned against false hopes though.

"In every interview I have been saying that we have realistic goals and we are not up to speed yet ... at the moment to be honest, we can only beat the Minardis unless we get some more development parts."
shares
comments
Karthikeyan Looks Forward to Leading Schumacher

Previous article

Karthikeyan Looks Forward to Leading Schumacher

Next article

Stoddart: Mosley Threatened to Cancel GP

Stoddart: Mosley Threatened to Cancel GP
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Drivers Narain Karthikeyan
Author Alan Baldwin
Why Russell was right to be wrong about Bottas after Imola F1 clash Plus

Why Russell was right to be wrong about Bottas after Imola F1 clash

George Russell and Valtteri Bottas' collision at Imola on Sunday prompted fury in the Formula 1 paddock. But Russell's carefully-worded heartfelt statement later, acknowledging that his initial response was wrong, proved the right move

How Verstappen and Hamilton’s Imola clash sets the tone for F1’s 2021 title fight Plus

How Verstappen and Hamilton’s Imola clash sets the tone for F1’s 2021 title fight

In Max Verstappen's Formula 1 career to date, he has been cast as the 'pretender', an acknowledged top-line performer without the car to regularly challenge Lewis Hamilton. But that no longer applies in 2021, and the start to the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix was the most telling signal yet of what we can expect from their duel this year

Formula 1
Apr 21, 2021
How “overwhelming” McLaren move has given Ricciardo a new verve Plus

How “overwhelming” McLaren move has given Ricciardo a new verve

Daniel Ricciardo has found a new lease of life at McLaren – a move that’s been years in the making, as he explains to STUART CODLING…

Formula 1
Apr 20, 2021
The German legend who raced and beat Nuvolari Plus

The German legend who raced and beat Nuvolari

Ninety years ago, Rudolf Caracciola became the first non-Italian to win the epic Mille Miglia. We look at how he stacks up to the most famous pre-war ace Tazio Nuvolari, one of the drivers he beat on that day in 1931

Formula 1
Apr 20, 2021
How 2021's midfielders have taken lessons from F1's top teams Plus

How 2021's midfielders have taken lessons from F1's top teams

Formula 1’s latest Imola adventure turned into an expensive trip for many teams due to several crashes throughout the weekend. While balancing the books is an added factor in 2021 with the cost cap, a few midfield teams have cashed in early on development investments

Formula 1
Apr 19, 2021
Emilia Romagna Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

Emilia Romagna Grand Prix Driver Ratings

A frantic wet race at Imola produced plenty of excitement and drama as drivers scrabbled for grip. Amid the hatful of mistakes and incidents that ensued, who kept their noses cleanest?

Formula 1
Apr 19, 2021
How the Emilia Romagna GP result hinged on three crucial saves Plus

How the Emilia Romagna GP result hinged on three crucial saves

Rain before the start of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix promised to spice up the action, and the race certainly delivered on that. Max Verstappen got the best launch to win from Lewis Hamilton, but both got away with mistakes that could have had serious consequences

Formula 1
Apr 19, 2021
The back-bedroom world-beater that began a new F1 era Plus

The back-bedroom world-beater that began a new F1 era

The first in a line of world beaters was designed in a back bedroom and then constructed in a shed. STUART CODLING recalls the Tyrrell 001

Formula 1
Apr 18, 2021