Bumpy road ahead of Narain

Stan Rayan

KOCHI: He may have patched up and shaken hands with his team boss Colin Kolles, but the Formula One road for Narain Karthikeyan now looks hard and bumpy.

The last few days have been rather bitter ones for Narain. The exit of Jordan's Sporting Director Trevor Carlin, who played a major role in the Indian getting his F1 break, and his angry outburst against Kolles have clearly put Narain under pressure to produce results.

One clearly noticed the desperation in Narain's driving as he pushed the car hard to try and stay ahead of his teammate Tiago Monteiro in the Canadian Grand Prix on Sunday. Desperation often leads to mistakes and the spin on lap eight and the hard brush against the wall at the Gilles Villeneuve Circuit 17 laps later, which led to his retirement, were ample examples. Formula One is all about the need to nurse your car to the finish and being better than your teammate in the first few races of your debut season.

Tiago holds the edge

Tiago now holds the edge for he is much closer to the elusive point than Narain. The Portuguese was behind Narain in this season's first two races but now has two top ten finishes, including Montreal. He has also finished all the eight races this season. In contrast, Narain has a best finish of 11th this season and completed just five of the eight races.

Narain, however, holds a small edge when it comes to a head-to-head record between the two. Narain has finished higher than Tiago in three races. Interestingly, Tiago's best — in Bahrain in April and in Canada on Sunday where he finished 10th — have come after Narain's retirement which clearly proves that with the petty `team fight' out of his mind, he has been able to handle the bigger battle better. When it comes to the fastest lap, he has pipped Tiago in five of the eight races. At San Marino, his fastest lap was the 12th best among the 20 drivers and was much better than the best of Toyota's Ralf Schumacher, Williams' Mark Webber and Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello.

With the Jordan owner, the Russian-born Canadian Alex Shnaider making it clear that the team is competing this season just to test the F1 waters before fielding a strong side next year, Narain has just about four months to silence his critics and Kolles who clearly hasn't been happy with the Indian's recent drives.

The next four months will define Narain's future.

PTI reports:

Meanwhile, Narain said he was not unduly bothered by the setbacks and is determined to make amends in the United States Grand Prix on Sunday.

``Even though I have never driven there, I am looking forward to Indianapolis, as there is a legendary racing history behind it. To be racing at the `Brickyard' will be a great experience for me,'' Narain said. ``We will be driving on a part of the oval, where the cars will reach a top speed of 350, 345 km/h. The first corner will be tricky and the infield section can be difficult as well. It will be good and I am really impatient to race there,'' he was quoted as saying in a Team Jordan press release.

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