Narain Karthikeyan has refuted some of the recent criticism heaped on the backmarker outfits on the Formula 1 grid, and argued that struggling outfits like Hispania Racing deserve their place in the sport.
Despite a hip, new colour scheme and a rather shameless attempt to lure more sponsors with the ‘Your logo here!’ stickers all over the F111, only carmaker Tata has come on board as a sponsor of the Murcia-based squad.
And indeed, the signs looked really worrying in the early stages of the 2011 season, with neither car achieving barely any mileage in an untested car before failing to qualify for the Australian Grand Prix.
Despite its apparent troubles, the team looks set to overhaul the equally-struggling (although much better-financed) Virgin Racing squad, which is enduring a difficult start to its 2011 with its very ordinary MVR-02 challenger.
A merry band of back-markers: ‘Straggler’ F1 teams were almost a fixture in F1 in the 1980s and 1990s. Here are some of the more famous (top left, spiralling in): AGS; Scuderia Italia and Larrousse; Andrea Moda; Zakspeed; Minardi; Theodore; Forti; Coloni; EuroBrun; Osella; Onyx; Lola; Rial [Images via Cahier and F1-Facts]
Yet F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has hinted that the backmarker outfits need to lift their game, suggesting that F1 would be better off without them on the basis of their current performance.
However, Karthikeyan argues that the team brings value to the sport.
“The fact is we are never in contention for the title,” he told the Hindustan Times. “But teams like these are equally important for F1. We are all a part of the show.
“[We] provide the platform for younger drivers and for drivers like me who are coming back. There’s this hierarchy in every sport, but it only makes it more interesting.”