Kolles: Karthikeyan Fitter than Ever

Three races have transformed India's first Formula One driver Narain Karthikeyan into a new man, according to Jordan team boss Colin Kolles

Kolles: Karthikeyan Fitter than Ever

The fitness concerns that surfaced after the slight 28-year-old made his historic debut in Australia last month have evaporated.

"He's changed a lot. These two months have made a man out of him," Kolles told Reuters on Friday at the San Marino Grand Prix, where Karthikeyan was 16th and 17th respectively in practice sessions for Sunday's race.

Kolles said the difference between his condition in Melbourne and Imola was night and day and the 'fastest Indian on wheels' supported that view. "I've been listening to exactly what my trainer's been saying," said Karthikeyan. "He's pushed me a lot and I can feel a huge difference.

"I'm sure there's a lot more to come...I need to just keep up the progress and by the middle of the year I should be much fitter. I've built up my neck and stuff and it's going pretty well. It's the neck which is the killer here in Formula One and the back, you do a lot of left foot braking and put a lot of pressure on them."

Jordan have yet to score a point, with Karthikeyan and Portuguese teammate Tiago Monteiro fighting lonely battles towards the rear of the field with only the Minardis regularly behind them.

Until the last Grand Prix in Bahrain, where the Indian retired with an electrical problem, Karthikeyan had out-qualified fellow rookie Monteiro and beaten him in Australia and Malaysia.

"Obviously I'm very happy with Narain, he shows every time that he has good speed, that he's doing a good job," said Kolles of a driver who has also brought important sponsorship to a team under new ownership.

"Tiago did a very good race in Bahrain, finished 10th, so he's quite reliable also. But for sure Narain was always a little bit quicker than Tiago, this is the reality."

Imola is more familiar to the Portuguese driver, but Karthikeyan felt he had handled his first day on the anti-clockwise circuit well.

"I am driving pretty okay at the moment so if I keep up the momentum then it is going to be hard for him (to beat me), that's for sure," he said.

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Series Formula 1
Drivers Narain Karthikeyan
Author Alan Baldwin
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