Former F1 driver Narain Karthikeyan has emerged as a late contender for a possible Is Narain Karthikeyan set to return to F1?driver vacancy at Force India, according to reports in Italy.

Prior to Karun Chandhok’s debut with Hispania Racing this year, Karthikeyan was India’s first Formula 1 driver, contesting a single full season with the Jordan squad in 2005, achieving a best result of fourth at the six-car United States Grand Prix.

The Coimbatore-born driver went on to achieve success in A1GP, taking two wins for Team India at Zhuhai and Brands Hatch. He recently competed in the SuperLeague Formula championship.

With the Jordan squad having morphed into Midland, Spyker and now Force India as it passed from owner to owner, the outfit is now headed by Indian billionaire Dr Vijay Mallya.

And with rumours surrounding who will make up the squad’s driver line-up next season – with suggestions that Adrian Sutil is trying to jump ship to a bigger team, while Vitantonio Liuzzi has seemingly fallen out of favour, and Paul di Resta waiting in the wings – Italy’s Autosprint now suggests Karthikeyan as a possibility.

It is also rumoured that Karthikeyan’s backers are prepared to invest some $8 million in securing him a return to F1, with Tata Motors (who backed his F1 debut in 2005) being thought as keen to associate with next year’s inaugural Indian Grand Prix.

Narain Karthikeyan achieved success in A1GPCertainly there are very strong commercial factors one should take into account, and F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone would dearly like to see one or more Indian drivers on the F1 grid in Dehli.

“If an Indian driver is in Vijay’s team or a good team it will be superb,” he told reporters during his brief stopover visit in Dehli.

But with Mallya himself having stated in May that “there is not one Indian pilot who has the potential to battle the best on the track”, will the airline magnate now change his tune nearly six months later?

[Original image via AUTOSPORT]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.