Karthikeyan tests on Force India simulator

20.02.2009 Johannesburg, South Africa,  Narain Karthikeyan (IND), driver of A1 Team India - A1GP World Cup of Motorsport 2008/09, Round 5, Gauteng, Friday Practice - Copyright A1GP - Free for editorial usage

Narain Karthikeyan

Dec.6 (GMM) Narain Karthikeyan has played down increasing rumours he could be set to return to formula one in 2011.

Before Karun Chandhok made his debut in 2010, 33-year-old Karthikeyan was India’s first grand prix driver, contesting the full 2005 season with Jordan.

The Silverstone based team is now headed by Indian billionaire Vijay Mallya and called Force India, and is yet to officially confirm a single driver for next season.

It was believed that Adrian Sutil, Vitantonio Liuzzi, Paul di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg were vying for the two race seats, but Karthikeyan – reportedly with $8 million in sponsorship to offer – is now also regarded as a credible candidate.

Karthikeyan has recently established a new career in America’s premier NASCAR motor racing scene, but Indian media reports say he tested in Force India’s driver simulator after the Abu Dhabi season finale last month.

“I did go for a simulator test but that’s all that happened,” he told the press.

“I’m not willing to comment on what happened during and after the tests. I think you should talk to (Vijay) Mallya about the results and my performance,” added Karthikeyan.

His hopes may have been bolstered by the fact that, next October, India will host its first ever grand prix.

“I’m looking forward to it. Every driver would like to be in the inaugural race,” Karthikeyan admitted.

But he admitted that turning his focus away from NASCAR to return to F1 next year would be “a risk”.

“I see myself being in this (NASCAR) for some time,” revealed Karthikeyan. “Getting out of America and then getting back in is not easy.”