The second round of the 2014 Super Formula saw Indian driver Narain Karthikeyan qualifying in eighth place despite a myriad of problems that disrupted the preparations during the run up to qualifying.
Making his race debut at the iconic Japanese venue, the Indian who drives for Team Lenovo Impul, managed to post a lap time good enough for a fourth row start, six-tenths of a second (0.681s) slower than eventual pole-sitter André Lotterer.
“It has been a difficult weekend compared to Suzuka last time around”, said Narain referring to the opening round of the championship last month where he had qualified on the front row.
“There are a few things we are still working on the setup front – because this our first time around here and the conditions and circuit characteristics are completely different from Suzuka”, he added.
Karthikeyan had an opportunity to test the Dallara SF14 at the same venue earlier in January this year, but the ambient temperatures being over 20 degrees colder compared to this race weekend had an immense effect on the aerodynamic characteristics of the car.
“Colder air is much denser, so you feel the effect of aerodynamics more in terms of stability, but increase the temperature by 20 degrees and you end up with a lot less downforce even if mechanically everything is the same”, explained Narain.
“Most other drivers on the grid have plenty of experience here so they were sort of expecting it, but I was really blown away by how much the car was moving around compared to the last time I had driven here”, he admitted.
An engine problem in the second practice session also forced Narain into the garage, losing over 20 minutes of running.
“If you can overtake on any circuit, this is it – so hopefully we’ll able to carve up our way through the grid tomorrow, make up some places and come away with some good points”, said Karthikeyan.