Narain Karthikeyan – 25
HRT surprised the entire world when they announced that Narain Karthikeyan would be driving for them in the 2011 season. Although considering the team’s track record with drivers, is it really that surprising? The team put Narain in the number 22 car and accepted his Tata funding which meant that they were able to put updates on their car for the first time.
Narain had been out of F1 for several years since the 2005 season with Jordan. Jordan had Bridgestone tyres, which proved to be of great benefit to them when despite their rocky performance they got a podium for Tiago Monteiro in the infamous US Grand Prix that year. In the meantime, the Indian had been driving in the A1 GP for Team India (and winning races) and in NASCAR Trucks. He was one of the most liked NASCAR trucks drivers. So naturally he struggled a bit when returning to the pace of F1 – even in an HRT.
He only had one retirement in his seven races, having been too slow to qualify in Melbourne. His best finish was in Canada, where the HRTs shone in the rain, but cutting the chicane to overtake saw him demoted to 17th. It’s a shame he didn’t just give the place back as he could have finished 15th. He also became the first ever driver to finish 24th in a race at the European Grand Prix.
Narain was replaced by Daniel Ricciardo from the Silverstone Grand Prix, but should return for India in October.
Worst qualifying: 24
Best qualifying: 22
Worst finish: 24 (Valencia)
Best finish: 17 (Monaco, Canada)
Average difference: 2.1
Laps completed: 381/499 (76%)
Average race position: 21.68 (Best: 19.2 Canada; Worst: 24.0 Valencia)