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Chandhok not ready for F1: Mallya

December 13, 2007 11:16 IST

Hoping for an Indian behind the wheels of Force India would be natural but Vijay Mallya, co-owner of the Formula One outfit, believes rookie driver Karun Chandhok is not yet ready for a place in the cockpit.

Mallya said testing with Red Bull must have done wonders to Chandhok's confidence but the youngster has to do well in the GP2 next year to stake his claim for a seat in the team.

"He is like a son to me as we have an excellent family relationship. The fact that he tested for Red Bull Racing was fantastic but I think he has a little way to go," Mallya said in an interview to the official Formula One website.

- Complete interview

"He needs to show me his performance in GP2 next year, and if he is good enough, there can be nothing better than a Force India team, an Indian GP and an Indian driver. That would be absolutely perfect," Mallya said in an interview.

Mallya also believes his decision to bid for what was previously known as the Spyker team was as pioneering an effort as Neil Armstrong's landing on the moon.

"I may be copying what Neil Armstrong said when he stepped on the moon but it underlines what a big leap forward this is for India.

"And now that Bernie Ecclestone has signed a contract with a large Indian developer to stage the first Indian Formula One GP in 2010 there is even better news for me as it reinforces the belief I had in acquiring the team," he said.

"Now young India can not only look forward to their own Formula One team but also to a GP in their home country and I think that makes it so much more attractive in every way," said the industrialist.

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Asked to share his thoughts on christening the team Force India, Mallya said, "Some old-fashioned people ask why use the word 'India'. But the word India is not the proprietorship of anybody. I have introduced the word 'India' into the team name because I love my country and it is a matter of pride for all of us. And this is the emotional bridge between a team that races all over the world and the country from which I come.

"And the word 'Force' stands for everything that is Formula One and its challenges."

The team has a confirmed driver in German Adrian Sutil and Mallya hinted there are a host of other candidates for the second seat.

In the tests at Jerez, the team had invited the likes of Christian Klien, Vitantonio Liuzzi, Ralf Schumacher and Giancarlo Fisichella and Mallya said selecting the second driver would not be an easy task.

"It will be a very difficult decision that I have to make. All of them are very good - they would all bring different strengths to the team," he said.

"Clearly we have Sutil on the one side and I need to make sure that the driver in the other car is able to raise the bar, so that both drivers keep raising the standard of performance all the time and help the engineering team along."

The picture, however, would be clearer by the end of this month, he said.

"I want to think very clearly about who will sit in the second cockpit. It is a very important decision for me and the team and I do not want to jump into anything. I will evaluate all the facts and then make my move," he said.

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