Formula One racer Narain Karthikeyan chats about his busy schedule, future plans, and yes, his attraction for that precious metal platinum

When Narain Karthikeyan tells us that platinum to him is for regular use, we half expect him to pull out a few hefty chains and show off his fingers full of chunky rings a la American rapper 50 Cent. But, he smiles instead and says, “That’s because the exhaust system in my racing car is made of platinum.”

Just back from the AutoGP World Series in Budapest, where he finished fourth, Karthikeyan did seem a tad jetlagged, but that’s something he is used to given his constant travel schedule. End of this month, he heads to the U.K. followed by trips to Germany, Italy, Holland and the Czech Republic. “The schedule is tight,” he says, adding, “I get to de-stress when I go home to Coimbatore. I also like going to Coonoor to chill out.”

India’s first Formula One racer, he made a career out of racing when the country wasn’t really exposed to motorsport. “Yes. It was a challenge for me because people kept saying ‘you can’t do it’, I had to prove myself. My father was also into rallying,” he says. Karthikeyan, who trained in France before he started his career in 2005, is happy that quite a few youngsters are taking to racing. “The racing scenario is changing here. There are a lot more facilities now for training. I am planning a circuit with MRF,” he says.

The Indian Grand Prix that’s held at the Buddh International Circuit, Greater NOIDA, amid much fanfare and studded with celebrity appearances, is an example of how motorsport is slowly gaining a foothold here. “I had to pinch myself that it was actually happening in India. I was part of it for the last two years and it was exciting. I love it because of the kind of support I get here.”

The sport is gaining popularity in India, sure, but why don’t we see women racers? “There are quite a few abroad. Danica Patrick from the U.S. is doing well. As for our country, I guess, it’s our society that’s different. Women hesitate to venture outdoors fearing they will get sunburnt or tanned. Also it’s a risky sport and there are chances of fractures, dislocations and scars….”

The racer was in the city to launch a collection of platinum jewellery at Joyalukkas. And is he into jewellery? “I am married, so, yes,” he laughs and adds, “As for me, I don’t wear bling,but I think white metal suits me.