Of course, you probably know that Narain Karthikeyan is part of modern-day Formula One (F1). And, while you might be quick to wave an enthusiastic hand in the air and tell us you also know about Karun Chandhok, who completed 10 races for Hispania Racing in 2010, and one for the erstwhile Team Lotus in 2011, we’re going to introduce you to some other Indians in Formula One who play critical roles in the sport.
Well, we simply cannot have a list of Indians in F1 and leave Karthikeyan out, can we? If you know all of this already, you’re a good F1 fan, is all we can say. For the uninitiated, Karthikeyan is the first Indian driver to make it to the highest echelon of motor racing – Formula One. Way back in 2005, Karthikeyan got the chance to partner Tiago Monteiro at Jordan Grand Prix, and, he didn’t do too badly. At his first race in Australia, he managed to qualify 12th and finished the race in the 15th slot. Not too bad for his first-ever grand prix. While the rest of the season didn’t go as he would have liked it to, there was that one race at Indianapolis, US, where he finished fourth (although, we must reveal, only six cars started that race). After 2005, Karthikeyan spent some time as a test and reserve driver for the Williams F1 team and also spent time racing in A1 GP and Nascar. And, since he made a return to F1 last year, he has put in a steady performance with the HRT squad and will be looking to keep his seat next year.
Team Principal of the
Sauber F1 team
Monisha Kaltenborn is one of the most significant women in the Formula One paddock. Dehradun-born Kaltenborn has been a regular face in F1 since 2010, when she took over as the CEO of the Swiss-based Sauber F1 team. When Sauber founder and team principal Peter Sauber retired from his role as principal, Monisha assumed the mantle. This, of course, makes her the first and only female team principal in F1, which also means she is the one taking most of the major decisions for the team. It also means drivers Sergio Perez and Kamui Kobayashi ought to be on their very best behaviour when she’s around!
Physiotherapist to the likes of Michael Schumacher
In that era of Formula One, when the sport was awash with scarlet thanks to the dominance of the Ferrari team and Michael Schumacher, Balbir Singh was a prominent face even on television. When Schumacher won a race, and would jump into the outstretched arms of the team, we’d often see Balbir smiling and celebrating with them. And, rightly so. The German of Indian origin is often credited with being the driving force behind Schumacher’s fitness streak in F1. After he retired in his role as the seven-time world champion’s physiotherapist, Singh took on a similar role with Force India. At the moment, though, we’ve spotted him marching purposefully through the paddock at the Indian GP, where he’s been working with Karthikeyan to ensure the Indian driver is at his fittest at his home grand prix.
Chief Strategy Engineer, Caterham F1
Ever wondered who takes the final call on exactly what race strategy a team is running? Well, that’s the race engineer. But, he has a million things to do on a grand prix weekend and needs to be supplied with proper strategy information, based on the analysis of plenty of data from past races. The person crunching the numbers for the Caterham F1 team is Yash Pathare, born and raised in Mumbai.
Growing up watching F1, Yash always wanted to be a part of the sport, so, he completed his engineering in Mumbai and then studied motorsport engineering at Brunel University. Once he was done, he was snapped up by Toyota, and now finds himself an integral part of Caterham F1. When the cars go in for their pit stops now, you know who is responsible for it.
Number 2 mechanic for Sebastian Vettel
Sebastian Vettel owes plenty of his success in Formula 1 to the men behind the scenes. This extends beyond just the genius of Adrian Newey, the brain behind Red Bull’s radical engineering success. The mechanics are just as important as the rest of the team. And, if Bal Sira wasn’t around to wield a spanner and wrench, Seb Vettel would be in something of a pickle.
Sira, a British citizen of Indian origin, is responsible for tinkering with the front and rear of Vettel’s car. He’s fortunate enough to have been with the team since 2008, which means he’s been a part of Red Bull’s two title wins in 2010 and 2011. If you’re at the paddock during the Indian GP this weekend, or if you’re watching the race at home, keep an eagle eye out for these folks!