It was nothing less than a dream come true for the lone Indian driver Narain Karthikeyean, who not only achieved his target of completing his first ever home race but also finished 17th – a slot ahead of his Hispania Racing teammate Daniel Ricciardo.
Karthikeyan, who had to start 23rd after receiving penalties in the qualifying event, did commendably well to overcome all odds and clocked 1:30:52.067.
“I had a great Grand Prix and I really enjoyed myself, it was an amazing experience. To finish 17th in my home GP is the best I could have wished for with the car we have and beating my teammate and one Lotus on the way makes it all the more satisfying,” said a visibly delighted Karthikeyan after his creditable showing before the 95,000 fans on Sunday.
“It is a shame I faced penalty and perhaps we could have had a much better race without it. I made a good start and then suffered some damage to the front wing but afterwards I picked up a good rhythm and was able to complete a good race,” he added.
Karthikeyan struggled to find the right words to express his emotions. “It is an awesome feeling to have completed the first ever Indian GP and to have been competitive with our main rivals.”
The 34-year-old said the success at the home race would brighten his chances in F1 in the next season.
HRT Team Principal Collin Koles patted Karthikeyan on the back. “I am satisfied with how things went this weekend and I am really happy for Narain because racing at a home GP for the first time is once in a lifetime experience. I am proud that he had a fantastic weekend and managed a great result,” Koles said.
The only Indian team in the Indian GP, Sahara Force India, managed to get two points through Adrian Sutil, who ended up at the ninth spot. The German, who went pointless in the last two races, did not have anything to complain.
“I think we can be happy with the two points today. In the early laps I struggled with the rear of the car, with a bit of oversteer, and could not hold off the Toro Rossos who were a bit quicker today.
But in the second and third stint, the car balance improved and I was able to keep the Sauber (Perez) behind me in the closing laps.”
“We were also fortunate that Buemi retired, which gave me another position. I think ninth was probably the maximum today,” he added.
The other driver of the team, Paul Di Resta, said starting off with hard tyres was an aggressive strategy. “It was always the plan to come in early with the hope of a safety car. It was a gamble to get rid of the hard tyre early on and if it had worked we would have gained a pit stop and done the race on three sets of softs, which was the quickest way,” said the Briton who had a 13th position in the race.
Team Principal Vijay Mallya valued the points earned by Sutil. “These two points are important for our championship battle and I am delighted that Sahara Force India will go down in the record books for scoring points in the inaugural Indian Grand Prix,” he said.