After a sensational start to his 2014 Super Formula season at Suzuka Circuit with a front row qualifying result, Narain Karthikeyan’s maiden weekend in the series came to a premature end after an on-track incident with eventual winner Loic Duval ended his chances of a top five finish.
The Indian had qualified on the front row on Saturday but had to start fifth after being slapped with a three-place grid penalty as he was adjudged to have impeded another car during free practice.
“It has been a disappointing end to the weekend after a promising start. We should have started on the front row but were fifth on the grid and then the incident with Duval scrapped any remaining hopes”, remarked a disappointed Narain.
Despite starting fifth instead of second Karthikeyan, driving for Lenovo Team Impul was still harbouring the hopes of a strong finish given qualifying pace but it wasn’t to be.
Having made a decent getaway off the line, the Indian retained his position during the opening minutes of the 43-lap race and concentrated on maintaining his pace while managing the cold tyres on a full tank of fuel.
“The pace was four seconds or so slower with full tanks [compared to qualifying], so we obviously had to be careful during the earlier stages and track temperatures were considerably lower as well”, explained Narain.
But Frenchman Loic Duval who was on an early charge seemed to run out of patience and a hasty move at the final chicane saw the two cars coming together, which ended up taking Narain’s right rear tyre out of shape.
“The car became undriveable after the hit and there was massive oversteer in left handed corners. I thought of continuing but it was just not possible given the circuit has several high-speed left handers”, he elaborated.
Narain’s Lenovo Team Impul teammate João Paulo de Oliveira finished seventh.
“At the next race in Fuji, we need to have a more rounded weekend and take our qualifying advantage into the race and put some solid points on the board to start our season in earnest”, he concluded.