Karthikeyan to race for HRT for 2nd consecutive season

New Delhi: Ace Indian driver Narain Karthikeyan has claimed the last available slot for the 2012 Formula One season by signing a fresh contract with Hispania Racing Team and this time for the full calendar.

Karthikeyan along with Spanish driver Pedro de la Rosa complete the HRT line-up for the season, beginning with Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 18.

A lot of other exprienced drivers missed out on getting a seat as such as Adrian Sutil and Vitali Petrov.

The 35-year old raced for Hispania in the 2011 in the first half of the season before being replaced by Daniel Ricciardo, although he was allowed to race in the home event at the inaugural Indian Grand Prix.

Karthikeyan said the good show in the Indian GP helped him convince the new management at the Hispania to get the racing seat.

"I am continuing with HRT. Four-five drivers were competing for this seat and I am happy that the team management preferred me over others," Karthikeyan told reporters in New Delhi.

"I think the strong show at the Indian GP was a big factor (in getting seat) as I delivered after missing the action for four months. They believe that I still have what it takes to deliver in F1," he said.

Asked if he had to arrange for more finance to get into the side, Karthikeyan said, "There were drivers who had more resources but I have the ability to race also."

He also refuted suggestions that he had to arrange for about USD eight millions to get this seat.

"It`s myth. Completely unrelated figure. It`s more of a technical sponsorship (with TATA and other sponsors)," Karthikeyan insisted.

The Indian said he is hoping for an improved performance for the Spanish side this season.

"It`s brand new car. It`s not possible to predict results in F1 but it will be a step forward from where we left in 2011 season," Karthikeyan said.

He also said that he was looking forward to race in company of experienced teammate Rosa.

"I first met him in 2001. We have not been in touch but he is the only who has driven for frontline teams such as McLaren. It will be good to race along with him."

HRT chief and new Team Principal Luis P?rez-Sala, who himself was an F1 driver, said Karthikeyan was a right choice for the team.

"He is a quick, intuitive and secure driver who met his expectations despite a lack of continuity last year. Of the eight Grands Prix he contested in 2011, he only failed to finish on one occasion and had a great performance in the last race he took part in," he said.