Force India offers Karun a chance to prove F1 mettle

Last Updated: Thursday, September 10, 2009 - 13:28

New Delhi: Force India will give Karun
Chandhok an opportunity to prove his F1 mettle but team owner
Vijay Mallya is bemused by the romanticism that the Chennai
driver deserves a seat in the outfit just because he is an
Indian.

"The entire issue has got too dramatised. I have been
discussing the issue with Karun Chandhok and have already
agreed to put him in the driver simulator to see how he
handles the F1 car," Mallya told reporters over phone.

"At the end of the day, Karun must win some GP 2 races
and come out good in F1 simulator in which I put him in. And
if he is competitive in the simulator, I would be the first
one to offer him a position in Force India," Mallya said.

After Giancarlo Fisichella joined Ferrari, Force India
promoted reserve Italian driver Vitantonio Liuzzi to the race
seat, a decision that drew criticism from some quarters with
F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone saying that the team should have
roped in Karun to give motorsports a boost in the country.

Mallya didn`t find fault with Ecclestone but pointed out
Force India had a contract with Liuzzi which made the Italian
the obvious occupant of the vacant race seat

"Bernie obviously recognises vast potentials in India and
that an Indian driver in F1 will probably, I say probably,
make the sport more popular in our country. So one cannot find
fault with his comment or desire.”

"But Bernie is not meant to know the finer details of
Force India`s contractual obligations. It`s not expected that
anybody who is not involved with the team to know all the
intricate details of our contract.”

"We have a contract with Liuzzi which says that he is a
reserve and test driver and, by definition, will get a race
seat when it is free. So we just followed that," Mallya
explained.

The liquor baron made it clear that Formula One has no
place for any such romanticism that nationality alone would
guarantee a driver his race seat.

"It doesn`t happen anywhere. That is why Ferrari didn`t
have an Italian race driver till Fisichella went. From last
year and this year, they had Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) and
Felipe Massa (Brazil).”

"Take the case of French team Renault. They had Fernando
Alonso (Spain) and Nelson Piquet Jr (Germany) before Romain
Grosjean came. There is no rule that you have to have a driver
of particular nationality," he said.

Mallya said he too would love to see an Indian driver in
F1 and was keeping an eye on the upcoming drivers.

"We have started with evaluating Karun in F1 simulator
and there are other youngsters coming up as well, like Aditya
Patel and Armaan Ebrahim," he said.

Mallya also laughed off suggestions that Force India`s
makeshift motor-home in the Belgium Grand Prix at Spa was an
indication of its financial woes.

"This is ridiculous. The distance between Spa and Monza
is about 1600 kms and we have back-to-back races. For your
information, my motor-home weighs 40 tonne and takes three
days to dismantle it and another three days to erect it.”

"That`s why we sent our original motor-home to Monza and
used a temporary one in Spa," he said.

Bureau Report



First Published: Thursday, September 10, 2009 - 13:28

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