|Sachin, Karthikeyan: Driving force
Calcutta, May 5: Two months ago, on the eve of his Formula One debut, Narain Karthikeyan received mental toughness tips from Sachin Tendulkar.
On Sunday, cricketís hottest signature of the present times is going to cheer Indiaís only F1 driver during the Spanish Grand Prix, the seasonís fifth race.
Sachinís presence has been confirmed by Jordanís head of marketing, Christian Geistorfer, who spoke to newspersons in Barcelona today.
According to an agency report, Jordan owner Alex Shnaider will entertain 20 guests at the GP. Sachin is going to be one of them.
'The Jordan team expects the visit of a real Indian celebrity: Cricket star Sachin Tendulkar is due to arrive in Spain tomorrow,' Geistorfer told newspersons.
As for Karthikeyan, he said: 'It looks like I will be fronting a busy weekend in terms of PR' Itís part of my life as a driver.'
The fastest Indian on wheels isnít complaining. In any case, all support is going to be welcome in the debonair Fernando Alonsoís backyard.
In Europe with his family for the past week, Sachin couldnít be reached on his cellphone (nowadays, he is using one everywhere to enable mother Rajani reach him at will), but he did speak to The Telegraph exclusively about F1 before his annual vacation in cooler climes.
Thus far, Karthikeyan hasnít finished better than 11th (in Malaysia), but Sachin feels he has been 'brilliant.'
'Look, this is Narainís first season and that he has completed three of the four races is creditable. But for electrical failure in Bahrain, he could have finished that GP as well. Such problems, however, go with the territory,' Sachin pointed out.
He added: 'As Iíve been saying, no one knows the F1 demands better than Narain himself and people must not be impatient' With experience, heís bound to improve.'
Given that Michael Schumacher has just had a single podium finish (second in San Marino, the last GP), 2005 has been a remarkable year.
Sachin, though, had some advice for Ferrari-bashers: 'The team has an awesome reputation and, so, people shouldnít be cynical' I believe teams are still getting used to the changes in rules and regulations'
Be it at Silverstone in 2002 or the European GP in Nurburgring last year, the cameras caught Sachin rooting for 'close friend' Schumacher.
Now that Karthikeyan is in the same daredevilsí club, is he in a dilemma'
Sachin laughed: 'No way' Whatever the sport and whoever the Indian, I have to cheer that sportsperson' Michael remains a close friend, but Iíll be rooting for Narain.'
The tricolour has been forced off his helmet, but Sachinís passion for anything Indian hasnít diminished.
Incidentally, asked whether the emergence of the Karthikeyans threatened the cricketersí monopoly over limelight, Sachin replied 'no.'
He explained: 'Thereís enough space for performers from other sport' Those who do well, like Narain, deserve to be applauded and placed on a pedestal'
Well said, Sachin.
Footnote: Little is known about cricket in Spain, except that the soccer-crazy country figures on the ICCís affiliate membersí list.