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Since 1st March, 1999
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Karthikeyan proves F1 mettle
- Barcelona Test-Driving
'I have to learn a lot in a very short time'

London: Narain Karthikeyan proved his F1 mettle on the opening day of testing clocking a time of one minute, 19.09 seconds at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya.

Narain completed 80 laps in his EJ15 and his best lap time was only 2.5 seconds off the pace of world champion Michael Schumacher as Jordan Grand Prix began a two car test with Karthikeyan and Tiago Monteiro on Tuesday.

Monteiro added 86 laps to the test mileage in a development EJ14 chassis.

'I did 80 laps which is the most I have ever done in one day in a Formula 1 car. It was pretty exciting. But I also understand that I have to learn a lot in a very short time. And I am prepared for it,' Karthikeyan said after the first of the four days of practice.

Jordan's sporting director Trevor Carlin seemed quite pleased with the performance of the two rookie F1 drivers.

'It was the first day of our full test programme and we did very well. Narain did 80 laps in the EJ15 while Tiago worked on some software,' Carlin said.

'In the next couple of days we want to do as many miles as possible to better understand the interaction of chassis, Toyota engine and Bridgestone tyres.

'Obviously we have a lot of work still ahead but I am very confident that we will improve dramatically and find ourselves in the position where we want to be on the Melbourne grid,' he said.

Meanwhile, all the talk about Formula One cars being slowed down by rule changes this season is beginning to sound like hot air.

Already McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen has broken the Valencia circuit record, albeit on a whiff of fuel. Ferrari's seven times world champion Michael Schumacher did the same in Barcelona last month.

In 2006, regulations will force teams to replace their three litre V10s for 2.4 litre V8s. Even that may not reduce speeds much.

'I think the cars will be just as fast this year and it wouldn't surprise me if they're not damn near as fast in 2006,' agreed International Automobile Federation (FIA) president Max Mosley.

'But it's where they would have been (without the changes) that is important.

'What we're doing is not looking at today, we're looking at where it (the speed of cars) is going. The most we can hope to do is contain it.'

The FIA forced through rule changes to slow cars down for safety, as well as to cut costs, after they decided that lap times indicated cornering speeds in particular were moving into the danger zone.

'The faster the cars go, the greater the probability that someone will be hurt or killed,' Mosley said last year. 'We now feel that probability is too high.'

However, hopes that average lap times would be two seconds slower already seem wide of the mark.

'I think Formula One is not going to be a lot slower than we used to see it,' said Toyota's Ralf Schumacher before rival teams got their new cars out and showed the German was right.

'I think Honda have done a really good job so far with this year's engine,' commented BAR test driver Anthony Davidson, whose team finished runners-up in 2004.

'I thought it was going to be more of a deficit from last year to this year in power terms, but it doesn't seem to be at all,' added the Briton.


1. F. Alonso (Renault) 1:14.99; 2. J. Montoya (McLaren) 1:15.22; 3. R. Zonta (Toyota) 1:15.37 4. K. Raikkonen (McLaren) 1:15.40; 5. G. Fisichella (Renault) 1:15.64; 6. D. Coulthard (Red Bull) 1:15.71; 7. V. Liuzzi (Red Bull) 1:16.14; 8. M. Webber (Williams) 1:16.50; 9. J. Trulli (Toyota) 1:16.55; 10. M. Schumacher (Ferrari) 1:16.63; 11. A. Pizzonia (Williams) 1:16.72; 12. N. Karthikeyan (Jordan) 1:19.09; 13. T. Monteiro (Jordan) 1:22.07.

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