Australian rookie Daniel Ricciardo will keep his seat at HRT for next weekend's Indian Grand Prix, with Vitantonio Liuzzi instead giving up his seat for Narain Karthikeyan in a one-off seat swap. Indian Karthikeyan is returning to action for his home Grand Prix having secured a sponsor for the race last month. He raced for HRT in the first 8 Grands Prix this year, before being replaced by Ricciardo.
HRT confirmed that Karthikeyan would race in India a month ago, but speculation has surrounded whose seat he would take. With Red Bull paying HRT for Ricciardo's seat, it comes as little surprise that Liuzzi will instead be stepping aside.
Team principal Colin Kolles praised the Italian for agreeing to step aside. “I have asked Tonio Liuzzi to step aside for the Indian GP in order to allow driving programs with Ricciardo and Karthikeyan to be completed,” said Kolles. “I have to thank Tonio for his professional approach and attitude.”
Karthikeyan said it would be a surreal experience to drive in front of his home crowd at his country's inaugural Grand Prix. “Driving in front of the home crowd cheering on is going to be a surreal experience. A once in a lifetime experience and I feel extremely fortunate,” he said.
“Making it into F1 at the time I did was a seriously uphill task and the thought of being able to compete in the inaugural Indian GP was non-existent. But it is finally here and I'll be on the grid.”
India may yet have two home-grown drivers on the grid of their inaugural Formula 1 race with Lotus reserve driver Karun Chandhok also hoping to be in action next Sunday. His chances are slim however, with Jarno Trulli reluctant to give up his seat for the race.