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Motorsport | Formula 1

Narain Karthikeyan © Gallo Images

Karthikeyan keen to stick with HRT

Narain Karthikeyan, India's first driver in Formula One, said on Thursday he hopes to stay with HRT-Cosworth next season despite another lacklustre show this year.

Karthikeyan, who is trailing in 24th position as he prepares for his home Grand Prix this Sunday, was only able to qualify for eight races out of 19 in the 2011 season.

The results have been no better for his Spanish team, which is languishing in last place in the constructors' standings with zero points.

His position is made all the more tenuous by unconfirmed reports that HRT is likely to retain Pedro de la Rosa in 2013 but is weighing up its options regarding the team's second driver.

Karthikeyan, however, expressed optimism he would stay put.

"I have a good relationship with HRT," Karthikeyan, 35, told reporters ahead of Sunday's Indian Grand Prix at the 5.14km Buddh International circuit in Greater Noida on the outskirts of New Delhi.

"It is my second year with them. They've built a good factory and everything else...so realistically I'd like to stay here and that's the plan right now."

Karthikeyan, who has been unable to qualify higher than 22nd in the first half of season, made headlines for the wrong reasons when he clashed with Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel at the rain-blighted Malaysian Grand Prix in March.

Vettel, the two-time world champion currently leading the drivers' championship, labelled the Indian "stupid" and accused him of costing him points as the action at Sepang reached its exciting climax.

Karthikeyan later branded the German "a cry baby" but the duo have since buried the hatchet.

The Indian said he is confident of giving his best on his home track, having been associated with the circuit closely during its design stage.

"I am happy to be driving here and will give it my best," said Karthikeyan. "The layout remains the same, just that the kerbs are extended a little bit in turns five and six. It's a nice circuit to drive on, it's pretty flowing and it's fast."

Karthikeyan, who tried his luck with NASCAR in 2010 before returning to F1 with HRT, said he was counting on home support to spur him on.

"I hope on Sunday we see a big, strong crowd. I will look forward to cheering home fans in the stands."


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