Mumbai: Tata Motors Thursday reaffirmed their support to Narain Karthikeyan, India’s first Formula 1 driver, for his maiden participation in the Japanese championship Super Formula.
The series comprising eight rounds, seven in Japan and one in South Korea, will begin April 13 and end Nov 9.
Super Formula, formerly 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. Also, similar to the 2014 F1 regulations, the erstwhile V8 engines will be replaced by two-litre, 550bhp turbocharged engines. Going by the two official tests held thus far, the lap time of the new Super Formula cars is merely three seconds shy of previous generation F1 cars on the same circuits and in the same territory as the new turbocharged F1 cars.
The Tata group has been supporting Narain Karthikeyan since 2002, contributing immensely to his international career which eventually led him to being the first-ever Indian to race in F1.
In Japan, Karthikeyan will be driving for Team Impul Hoshino Racing, competing with some of the fastest drivers from across the world. They include 24 hour Le Mans winners and WEC World Champions, Andre Lotterer and Loic Duval, former F1 pilots, Vitantonio Liuzzi, Takuma Sato and Kazuki Nakajima, former Force India F1 test driver, James Rossiter, and 2010 Super Formula Champion Joao Paulo de Oliveira, who is also Karthikeyan’s teammate at Team Impul, among others.
Karthikeyan, the only Indian participating in the series, said: “It is an honour to be backed by the Tata group that has always been at the forefront of promoting Indian sporting talent. I am excited and looking forward to competing in Super Formula, which has an amazing line-up of drivers from across the world. The best part about this spec-series is the fact that everyone has the same equipment and the same opportunity to win - something which I relished in Auto GP last year. I hope to make the country proud.”