Zele Racing has invited Narain Karthikeyan to join them and compete in the first round of the 2013 AutoGP World Series at Monza, Italy.
In 2005, Karthikeyan became the first Indian driver in the history of Formula One, making his debut with Jordan F1. He extended his spell in motor racing's elite class as the third driver for Williams F1 in 2006 & 07, before entering the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport with Team India, winning two races along the way.
He returned to Formula 1 in 2011 & 2012 with HRT, but fell victim to the Spanish team's withdrawal from the sport ahead of the 2013 season. Hence the Indian driver has therefore decided to test new waters and take on a new challenge with Zele Racing, a well-established Austrian racing team, competing in the Auto GP World Series.
"I was looking forward to continuing my Formula 1 career in 2013 with HRT. Unfortunately circumstances within the team lead to the operation shutting down. I have decided to accept the invitation from Michael, as it keeps me driving a high powered single seater, and with a heavily revised car for 2013, lap times are said to be on par with other single seater series. I've worked with Zele Racing before, and have known Michael for a long time. I'm looking forward to the first race in Monza, as it's a track I know well," Narain said.
Zele Racing, which was founded by former motorbike racer Hermann Zele and his son Michael in 2001, is looking back on a successful history in motor racing including the World Series by Nissan, the Superfund Euro3000, the LeMans Series and AutoGP, of course.
"I have known Narain for some time and it is great that we can now work together. As a former Formula 1 driver, he has great experience and should adapt and perform well in the limited track time available in Monza", team boss Zele said.
Also Narain’s new teammate, F2 2012 champion Luciano Bacheta is delighted saying: "It's great to find out that I'll be working alongside Narain this year. We will be pushing each other hard and it will benefit the team a lot by having two strong drivers. Following my racing in India over the winter and my ancestry the synergy is extremely exciting."
Auto GP is managed and promoted by Coloni Motorsport and will be running eight rounds, featuring two races every race weekend at each venue with 21 cars registered. Notable past champions include Lotus Formula 1 star Romain Grosjean in 2010 and his success helped him to spring board back to Formula 1. The season starts on March 24th in Monza, Italy, and finishes on October 6th in Brno, Czech Republic.