On the day of the launch of their 2006 season race car, the FW28, WilliamsF1 confirmed the appointment of Narain Karthikeyan as the team’s fourth driver.
Karthikeyan, dubbed ‘The fastest Indian in the World,’ first tested for WilliamsF1 on Wednesday 7 December, 2005, in Jerez and immediately impressed the team with his skill and capability in the car.
While the team took the decision to hire the experience of Alex Wurz to carry out the important Friday testing role for the 2006 season, WilliamsF1 still regarded the young Indian’s abilities highly. Today’s confirmation of Narain’s appointment as a team test driver is validation of that confidence.
Narain has been signed by the team both to develop his own potential and to make a valuable contribution to the crucial test programme, the bedrock of Williams’ 2006 championship as the company strengthens its new technical partnerships with engine suppliers, Cosworth and tyre company, Bridgestone.
Sir Frank Williams, WilliamsF1’s Team Principal said, “Narain’s brief period in the car in December, during which he provided valuable feedback, made a very distinct impression on our engineers. Having a year’s GP racing and testing to his credit is also advantageous for us so I am pleased we can now formally confirm his appointment to the team.”
For his part, Karthikeyan reflected, “It has taken some while to resolve what I would be doing for 2006, but having tested for Williams late last year, joining the team was the best option for me and I am delighted that we can finally confirm this today. I am looking forward to testing the FW28 and making a contribution to Williams’ competitiveness this season.”
Update: Probably as a result of this, Williams signed a new India-based sponsor shortly after this announcement, read more about it here.