Narain Kathikeyan had a disappointing start to his 2014 Super Formula season with him retiring from the debut race held at the Suzuka circuit.
For the Indian driver especially after he had good chances of a strong finish owing to his front row qualifying result on Saturday, it was a huge disappointment. Kathikeyan inspite of qualifying second was told to start from the fifth position as a three place penalty for impeding another car during free practice session. The retirement from the race came due to a minor collision with a hard charging Loic Duval, which resulted in Karthikeyan's rear right tyre going out of shape. This led to over-steering specially during left handers. This is what Narain had to say about the incident, "The car became undriveable after the hit and there was massive oversteer in left handed corners. I thought of continuing but it was just not possible given the circuit has several high-speed left handers."
The Super Formula series this year makes use of Dallara SF14 chassis and the cars are powered by a 2.0litre, turbo-charged engine which generates 557PS. Narain races for Lenovo Team Impul and is hopeful of a better performance in the next race. He concluded with these lines, "At the next race in Fuji, we need to have a more rounded weekend and take our qualifying advantage into the race and put some solid points on the board to start our season in earnest." His team mate Joao Paulo de Oliveira bought some relief to the team with a seventh place finish.
The next race is at the Fuji Speedway on July 13.
|· The Indian had qualified on the front row for his debut race at Suzuka Circuit. · An incident with Loic Duval while running sixth scuppered chances of a strong finish. Suzuka Circuit (Japan) April 13: After a sensational start to his 2014 Super Formula season at Suzuka Circuit with a front row qualifying result, Narain Karthikeyan's maiden weekend in the series came to a premature end after an on-track incident with eventual winner Loic Duval ended his chances of a top five finish. The Indian, supported by Tata Sons and Tata Motors, had qualified on the front row on Saturday but had to start fifth after being slapped with a three-place grid penalty as he was adjudged to have impeded another car during free practice. "It has been a disappointing end to the weekend after a promising start. We should have started on the front row but were fifth on the grid and then the incident with Duval scrapped any remaining hopes", remarked a disappointed Narain. Elaborating on the penalty he said, "During the drivers' briefing, the organisers were clear that a three-place penalty will be awarded in case a driver is found impeding others during qualifying, but in my case it was during the start of the practice session which doesn't really count towards anything. So the penalty was quite harsh and unfair in my opinion and such miscommunication needs to be avoided in the future." The completely revamped Super Formula series (erstwhile known as Formula Nippon) has switched to a new Dallara SF14 chassis this year; powered by two-litre, 550 bhp turbocharged engines similar to the new 2014 F1 regulations. Despite starting fifth instead of second Karthikeyan, driving for Lenovo Team Impul was still harbouring the hopes of a strong finish given qualifying pace but it wasn't to be. Having made a decent getaway off the line, the Indian retained his position during the opening minutes of the 43-lap race and concentrated on maintaining his pace while managing the cold tyres on a full tank of fuel. "The pace was four seconds or so slower with full tanks [compared to qualifying], so we obviously had to be careful during the earlier stages and track temperatures were considerably lower as well", explained Narain. But Frenchman Loic Duval who was on an early charge seemed to run out of patience and a hasty move at the final chicane saw the two cars coming together, which ended up taking Narain's right rear tyre out of shape. "The car became undriveable after the hit and there was massive oversteer in left handed corners. I thought of continuing but it was just not possible given the circuit has several high-speed left handers", he elaborated. Narain's Lenovo Team Impul teammate João Paulo de Oliveira finished seventh. "We know that we have the pace which is very important, we need to work a bit on the race strategy since it is new for everyone me and the team, with refuelling and so on. "At the next race in Fuji, we need to have a more rounded weekend and take our qualifying advantage into the race and put some solid points on the board to start our season in earnest", he concluded. 2014 Super Formula Calendar April 13 Suzuka Circuit May 18 Fuji Speedway TBA Korea July 13 Fuji Speedway Aug 24 Twin Ring Motegi Sept 14 Autopolis Sept 28 Sportsland Sugo Nov 9 Suzuka Circuit _______________________________________________________________________________________ Super Formula 2014 specs Chassis: Dallara SF14 Engine: 2.0-litre turbo with Hybrid system Power: 550bhp Weight: 650kg (inclusive of driver) Gearbox: Ricardo six-speed paddle shift Brakes: Brembo Tyres: Bridgestone|