“It’s been a while in the making, but I am extremely happy to be racing again in Formula One in 2011,” said the 33 year-old. “I've always maintained that I have not given up on my desire to return to the pinnacle of world motorsport. I am confident that I still have the pace, the fitness and the will to succeed in Formula One.
“I’m looking forward to racing for Hispania Racing, and to working again with Dr Colin Kolles. We have a long standing and excellent working relationship together. I’m also looking forward to racing at the first ever Indian Grand Prix in October, and I hope that the Indian public will spur me on with their blessings and good wishes.”
Karthikeyan was the lead driver for A1 Team India in A1GP for two seasons from 2007 and won two events. In 2009, he raced for the Kolles Audi Team in the Le Mans Series and the Le Mans 24-Hour race, becoming the first-ever Indian to compete in the legendary event. The car finished seventh overall.
In 2010 the Chennai-born driver raced in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in the USA, as well as in the Superleague Formula in Europe, where he won a race at Brands Hatch. His win there extended a unique run of luck at the UK circuit, where he is the only driver to win a round in every series in which he has competed.
Before his 19-race Formula One foray in 2005, Karthikeyan had completed spells in Formula Three, Formula Nippon, Formula Vauxhall and the Nissan World Series to name just a few. Highlights include his fourth place in the standing for the 2000 British Formula Three championship and his 1996 Formula Asia title.
“It is a great pleasure for us to have signed Narain as our race driver,” commented HRT team principal Colin Kolles. “I have known Narain for a long time and he can revert to the experiences he gained when he was competing for Jordan Grand Prix and being test and reserve driver for Williams F1.
“Narain has also been driving in other racing series and running in one of the legendary Audi sports cars in the Le Mans Series. I am sure that his experience and speed will be very useful for the team during the season. We are welcoming Narain to our team and we look forward to working closely with him this year.”
HRT endured a difficult debut season in 2010. No pre-season testing and a changing driver line-up, which included Bruno Senna, Karun Chandhok, Sakon Yamamoto and Christian Klien, saw the team finish the year 11th in the standings, without a single world championship point.
The team have yet to announce who will partner Karthikeyan in 2011.