Chennai: The doors of Sahara Force India Formula One team seem to be opening for Narain Karthikeyan. Ever since Vijay Mallya bought the F1 team in 2007, the businessman has been dismissive of Indian drivers even as he tested Narain and Karun Chandhok in a simulator a couple of years back.
But the 2013 season, scheduled to kick-start on March 15, could finally see an Indian behind the wheel of a tricolour-liveried machine.
The official pre-season test has already begun, but the Silverstone-based team are the only outfit who have not yet confirmed their second driver — a teammate for Scot Paul di Resta.
Sources say that Narain, who has managed to get more financial backing than last year, has already been offered a reserve driver role at Force India, but the 36-year-old is keen on landing a proper race drive.
“As soon as Narain’s long-term sponsors Tata increased the budget for 2013, talks with Force India began. Unlike the past, the negotiation has been a lot more positive. As reserve drivers don’t have much of a role in F1 these days, Narain is only interested in the second driver seat. If talks fail, he will probably go to America for IndyCar series where a couple of teams have already shown interest,”said a source.
Adrian Sutil and Bruno Senna were earlier linked with the Force India seat, but Brazilian Senna on Wednesday signed up with Aston Martin for the World Endurance Series raising Narain’s hope.
Narain represented backmarkers Hispania Racing in 2012 and the beleaguered Spanish team are now out of F1.
At last year’s Indian GP, F1 star Lewis Hamilton and the sport’s flamboyant boss Bernie Ecclestone suggested that a move to Sahara Force India could do wonders for Narain, the team and the country.