Narain more popular than Schu

Formula One rookie Narain Karthikeyan claims he is more popular than world champion Michael Schumacher after the Indian driver's fans went wild over his Grand Prix debut last weekend.

Karthikeyan, who joined Jordan this season to become India's first ever Formula One driver, may be racing at the back of the grid but he already believes he is recognised by more people than the German giant.

Karthikeyan said: "I am more popular than Michael Schumacher now! I have been in the spotlight (in India) for the last three years but now it has gone to a different league. It is always front page of every magazine and newspaper.

"I didn't know there would be so many supporters out there in Australia last weekend. There must have been 500 or 600 of them at the track this weekend I am very happy and it is great to have Indians behind me."

But the 28-year-old is facing an uphill struggle to make more of a name for himself this season, as the Jordan team have limited funding and are in turmoil after Russian businessmen Alex Shnaider took over at the helm.

Karthikeyan finished 15th on his debut but he believes he can improve with the team this season and is desperate to increase his popularity at home even more by becoming the first Indian driver to score a Grand Prix point.

"Hopefully when there is a possibility to score points we must be there to take it," he said. "In Australia I focussed on my job and God looked after the finish. I think we will improve race by race.

"Malaysia will probably be my home Grand Prix as it is only two hours from India. There are going to be a lot of supporters and I am just so thrilled they are following Formula One in a big way now.

"I was excited on the grid at the start but when you start race it is just like any other. Now I just need to do a god job and stay for as long as I can. My dream was to compete in Formula One, now I have it is to score points."
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