Set to rub shoulders with the likes of Michael Schumacher [ Images ] and Lewis Hamilton [ Images ], Karun Chandhok [ Images ] said it feels surreal to have finally become India's [ Images ] second Formula One driver.
"This is just an unbelievable feeling. I am absolutely thrilled to be able to fulfill a lifelong dream to break into Formula One," an elated Karun said after he signed a deal to be Hispania Racing Team's (HRT) second driver this season.
"We've been working for so many years for this opportunity and now that we've finally made it, it feels a bit surreal to be honest," said the Chennai driver who followed in Narain Karthikeyan's [ Images ] footsteps to join the Formula One circuit.
Karun said he was yet to come to terms with the fact that the Formula One has finally opened its door for him.
"Only when I get to Bahrain, will it fully sink in that I am going to be on the same grid as world champions like Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso [ Images ]," he said.
HRT team principal Colin Kolles welcomed Karun and hoped the Indian would live upto the expectations.
"We are proud to have Karun as part of our team line-up ahead of our Grand Prix [ Images ] debut in Bahrain. I am delighted that we can count on such a promising young talent as Karun Chandhok," Kolles said in a statement.
"As a front-runner in the GP2 series I am confident Karun will step up to the F1 challenge and contribute to a successful debut season for both him and the team," he added.
Karun, on his part, is aware of Formula One's physical demand and said he is in good shape.
"I have been training really hard over the winter to be as fit as possible. I've been doing a lot in the heat in Chennai, cycling or running at 11 am at the peak of the heat," he said.
"The F1 cars are particularly demanding on the neck because of the higher speeds and g-forces and I have been doing special exercises concentrating on building up my neck muscles. The first couple of races will be hard I'm sure but I'm pushing in the gym as much as I can," said the youngster.