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Chandhok unsure about starting race at Indian GP

Last updated on: October 17, 2011 10:48 IST

Chandhok unsure about starting race at Indian GP

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Karun Chandhok must wait for Team Lotus to make or break his dream of racing in his country's inaugural Formula One Grand Prix next week.

The team reserve, who competed in Germany this year in place of Italian veteran Jarno Trulli, is hoping the team will give him the nod again even though the decision is far from straightforward.

"At the moment, my honest answer is I don't know and it's out of my hands," he told Reuters at the Korean Grand Prix in Yeongam at the weekend when asked about his chances of racing at the Buddh circuit near New Delhi.

"(Team Lotus owner) Tony (Fernandes) has said a million times in various interviews that he would like for it to happen.

"It's a question that is obviously at the top of everybody's mind and my own but I think people need to understand that there are contractual complexities, there are two contracted race drivers here and it's not a simple decision."


Image: Karun Chandhok
Photographs: Reuters
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'The expectation was for me to be ahead of the Virgins and HRTs'

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Team Lotus have not scored a point in nearly two seasons in Formula One but are the best of the three newcomers who made their debut in 2010 and are determined to end the year at least 10th out of 12.

Giving Chandhok a drive, even if it is in front of his home crowd, may be seen by some in the team as a riskier option at this stage than sticking with Trulli.

The Indian felt, however, that he had showed his worth in the Friday practice sessions he has done and, even if the signs were not overly promising, was staying positive.

"Tony has said to me his expectation was for me to be ahead of the Virgins and HRTs," he declared of the targets he had been set in what have been mostly wet practice sessions.

"That's a realistic expectation. I have done that quite convincingly now in the last three Fridays so I feel I have done the best job I can and now ... however they decide is up to them."


Image: Karun Chandhok
Photographs: Getty Images
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'You are going to have to expect typical first year problems'

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Chandhok said the wait was 'mentally challenging'.

"I am turning down more press requests than I can do at the moment," he smiled. "If I wanted to, I could do a dozen interviews a day with various magazines, newspapers and TV channels.

"And for all of them the very first question is the same. And I understand it. To be the Indian driver on the grid for the Indian Grand Prix is a huge story there."

Chandhok said the circuit was sure to be a success, even if teething problems were inevitable.

Local farmers seeking more compensation have threatened a protest campaign during the race and security is also a concern for teams.

"You are going to have to expect typical first year problems," he said. "There are going to be traffic problems, car park problems, cock-ups here and there."


Image: Karun Chandhok
Photographs: Getty Images
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'I think the circuit looks fantastic'

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"But is there anything that will really threaten the event? I don't think so. Is there anything that will really publicly embarrass the event? I don't think so.

"I think the circuit looks fantastic," added the son of Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India president Vicky Chandhok.

"I was there before I flew to Suzuka (for this month's Japanese Grand Prix). I drove around the circuit and the asphalt is really smooth, there's no bumps and the kerbs are in. It's a nice layout."

Chandhok, who has also driven the layout in a simulator, would not be the only Indian driver if given the nod by Fernandes.

Narain Karthikeyan, the only Indian to score points in Formula One during a previous stint at now-defunct Jordan, will be racing for struggling Spanish team HRT.

Image: Karun Chandhok and Narain Karthikeyan
Photographs: Getty Images
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