x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Karthikeyan hits back at Mallya

India's first Formula One driver Narain Karthikeyan said he was never interested in joining Force India and criticised team co-owner Vijay Mallya.

Narain Karthikeyan celebrates winning the second race of the A1GP season at Brands Hatch.
Narain Karthikeyan celebrates winning the second race of the A1GP season at Brands Hatch.

MUMBAI // India's first Formula One driver Narain Karthikeyan said he was never interested in joining Force India and criticised team co-owner Vijay Mallya for saying no Indian was good enough to drive in F1. "I spent a frustrating time with Jordan, where I had a car that just could not perform. I have no desire to be with another pedestrian team that's low on performance and loud on talk," Karthikeyan said.

The Indian billionaire Mallya bought into the Spyker team last year and renamed it Force India. He said recently that neither Karthikeyan nor the country's next hope Karun Chandhok were good enough for his team. Force India failed to score a point in its first season and confirmed this month that the Italian Giancarlo Fisichella and the German Adrian Sutil will race for them again in 2009. "I never even approached Mallya. The vibes from the camp have been extremely negative and I want to make it clear that I am not interested in driving for Force India," Karthikeyan told the Hindustan Times.

Karthikeyan, who in 2005 became his country's first F1 driver, has been driving in the A1 Grand Prix series with some success and is hoping to find a way back into F1. "Spyker offered me a drive in August 2007. I declined as the team was going nowhere," said Karthikeyan, who was also tester for Williams for two seasons. "Except in F1, where machine matters more than man, I have won races in every championship that I have participated in," he added.

Asked for his response to Karthikeyan's comments, Mallya said: "Everyone is welcome to their views." *Reuters