Karthikeyan Learns from Cricket Star

Narain Karthikeyan, India's first Formula One driver, has been taking tips from cricket great Sachin Tendulkar in how to deal with pressure

Karthikeyan Learns from Cricket Star

Karthikeyan finished 15th on his debut for Jordan at the season-opening race in Melbourne earlier this month and credited Indian batsman Tendulkar for helping him keep his feet on the ground.

"Sachin Tendulkar is a very big fan of Formula One and I'm good friends with him," Karthikeyan told Reuters on Thursday. "He has a lot more people watching him so he knows what it's like. He is clearly happy for me.

"Sachin has given me advice. He told me just to concentrate on the job and not be bothered what happens in India... just do the best I can and what happens, happens."

The Madras-based Karthikeyan realised a lifetime's dream by racing in Australia and will to be firm crowd favourite at this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix in Sepang.

"It's about three hours from Madras," he said. "There is a big Indian community here and (the race has) been promoted a lot in India so we expect quite a few people coming here."

Karthikeyan started ahead of seven-times World Champion Michael Schumacher on the grid in Melbourne but lost six places on the opening lap and failed to overtake anyone.

Realistic Goals

"The Indian media has explained to the public that I am not capable of winning races at the moment," said the 28-year-old.

"I have also told them we have realistic goals, which is first to finish races and in the few races we can we will pick up points. There are a lot of eyes watching me but that's always been the case. Now it's on a little bit bigger scale. I've dealt with it okay so far."

Karthikeyan's goals are understandably modest for Sunday's race in steamy Sepang - for him and Portuguese teammate Tiago Monteiro to finish again.

"We have two rookie drivers so the aim is always to finish," he said. "It's a steep learning curve."

Karthikeyan could be more popular in India than Schumacher himself but he knows his place in the Formula One firmament.

"It's a dream come true. In India from a very young age, I looked up to Schumacher and suddenly now I'm racing with him," he said.  "But the people don't expect me to go and beat Schumacher."

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