Go to the British Grand Prix and the local fans will be cheering on their hometown heroes Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button. At the Australian Grand Prix they'll cheer for Mark Webber. In Spain they pull for Fernando Alonso. In Germany, it's showtime for Sebastian Vettel and Michael Schumacher. Not every country with a Formula One race is represented on the grid as well, but India will be when the F1 circus rolls into town in late October.
The subcontinent has only had a couple of F1 drivers in its history with Karun Chandhok and Narain Karthikeyan, both of whom have achieved limited success. Chandhok contested a handful of grands prix for HRT last season and one for Lotus earlier this year, but has failed to score a single point.
Meanwhile Karthikeyan scored his only points at the controversial 2005 United States Grand Prix, where he drove for Jordan. After returning with HRT earlier this season, Narain was replaced by Red Bull's Australian protégé Daniel Ricciardo a few races ago. However it's now being reported that HRT will put Karthikeyan back in the driver's seat to race in front of his home crowd for the inaugural Indian Grand Prix five races from now.
Of course HRT and Karthikeyan will have to vie for fans' loyalty against the Force India team, which currently stands at seventh place in the constructors' standings, behind Renault and Sauber and ahead of Toro Rosso and Williams.