Narain Karthikeyan to race in 2014 Super Formula season
India's top racing driver Narain Karthikeyan has confirmed his participation in the Japan-based Super Formula single seater series.
Karthikeyan participated in the 2013 Auto GP World series where he was a title contender and scored a record five wins and four pole positions during the course of the season.
In 2014, he will drive for Team Impul Hoshino Racing which finished third in the Super Formula title standings last year.
"I am really excited to confirm that I am driving in the Super Formula series this season with Team Impul", said Karthikeyan on the sidelines of the Auto Expo here Wednesday.
"With a new chassis and turbocharged powertrains this year, along with a really strong grid of drivers, means it is going to be a fast and intensely competitive campaign," he said.
Super Formula Japan, previously known as Formula Nippon, has been running since 1973 with its driver roster including Michael Schumacher, Eddie Irvine, Pedro De La Rosa and Ralf Schumacher.
The series has switched to a new Dallara SF14 chassis this year, which is based on the Italian manufacturer's GP2 chassis. The erstwhile V8s will be replaced by two-litre, 550 bhp turbocharged engines from the stables of Honda and Toyota - drawing parallels with Formula 1 which has switched from naturally-aspirated V8s to 1.6-litre turbos this year.
The official tyre supplier is Bridgestone and the lap time of the new car is just 3-4 seconds slower compared to the 2013-spec F1 cars.
"With the new 2014 F1 cars being over five seconds slower compared to last year, I think Super Formula may end up being the fastest series in the world.
"Of course F1 teams will improve massively during the course of the season but it is amazing that a spec-series can be so close to the pinnacle."
The car will also be equipped with a 50 bhp 'push-to-pass' system, along with Drag Reduction System (DRS) to improve overtaking, as applied in F1.
The new-look Super Formula has attracted an exceptionally strong grid of drivers for the 2014 season, including former F1 pilots Vitantonio Liuzzi, Takuma Sato and Kazuki Nakajima alongside Karthikeyan.
Le Mans 24 Hours winners and WEC World Champions Andre Lotterer and Loic Duval will also line up on the grid, along with former Force India F1 test driver James Rossiter. Briton Richard Bradley and Brazilian João Paulo de Oliveira - the latter being Karthikeyan's teammate at Team Impul - will also compete.
"It is an amazing line up of drivers and the best part about a spec-series like this is the fact that everyone has the same equipment and the same opportunity to win - something which I relished in Auto GP last year having gone through two nightmarish years with HRT F1 prior to that."
The 37-year-old felt the biggest challenge will be to get used to the circuits.
"It will be challenging to drive in unknown circuits as I haven't competed at venues other than Suzuka. I tested the car recently at Fuji Speedway and it feels great - so I can't wait for the season to kick off," he added.
The seven-round calendar is set to kick-off at the Suzuka Circuit April 13 with one of the rounds scheduled to be held in Korea.
2014 Super Formula Calendar:
April 13 Suzuka Circuit
May 18 Fuji Speedway
Aug 24 Twin Ring Motegi
Sept 14 Autopolis
Sept 28 Sportsland Sugo
Nov 9 Suzuka Circuit
(Posted on 05-02-2014)