Narain Karthikeyan’s 2013 Auto GP World Series season came to a controversial end on Sunday when he was disqualified due to a loose front wing after managing second place in the final race of the weekend here at Brno Circuit.
The disappointing result puts paid to Karthikeyan’s title hopes despite winning the maximum number of races (five) in the season. The Indian’s Supernova teammate Vittorio Ghirelli won the championship courtesy 11 podiums, including two wins.
The Indian driver, who pulled off a scintillating drive Saturday to win from third on the grid, was on a mission once again as the lights went out for the final race of the 2013 season with the championship title at stake.
An aggressive start saw him make a couple of places on the opening lap but he was stuck in traffic for the following laps which allowed Japanese Kimiya Sato to eke out a comfortable lead at the front of the pack.
He was still posting consistently fast lap times, having passed Ghirelli early on. The Supernova crew elected then to pit Karthikeyan to put on a fresh set of soft tyres, which the former Grand Prix driver had saved for race two, and get him out in clean air.
The plan seemed to be working well until Karthikeyan’s front wing came slightly loose as he exited the pitlane. A lap later, the left side on the wing was hanging off, scraping the ground on occasions.
Subsequently, he was shown the black and orange flag - which indicates that the driver has to pit within three laps and change the damaged part. But the team elected to keep him out as he was the fastest car on the track at the time and hoping that he would be able to take the win. He held on and kept Sergio Campana at bay to finish second.
Post-race though, the stewards ruled that the team had not respected the flag and hence the 36-year-old was disqualified.
Asked about the Auto GP experience, Karthiekyan said: “It has been a great season overall, I enjoyed competing at the front and fighting at the front for wins and pole positions among a strong grid of drivers.
“In fact, it was a breath of fresh air after two seasons in F1 with HRT. I’ve been driving better than ever and it feels great have results to show for it. Our championship effectively started Silverstone (round four) so this result is like winning the title," he added.
Karthiekyan could only collect 33 points from the first six races where he was driving for Zele Racing.
But since switching over to Supernova International from round four in Silverstone, he consistently proved himself to be the fastest driver on the grid, having clinched four pole positions and five wins from 10 races while scoring 162 points from the total 240 available.