Force India team Vijay Mallya has admitted that he would love to run an Indian driver as part of his team's Formula One challenge in future, although such a move 'isn't right at the current time'.
The Silverstone-based team will go into 2009 with an unchanged line-up after electing to stick with Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil for the season ahead.
That has led to questions in some quarters as to why Force India hasn't looked to employ Indian driving talent, with the likes of Karun Chandok and Narain Karthikeyan being possible options, but Mallya insisted that it could still happen in future.
“Much has been made of our decision not to employ an Indian driver, but it was my feeling that, although there is great talent out there, it is not right for Force India at the current time,” he said. “Of course at some point, from a patriotic point of view, I would love to see an Indian driver driving an Indian car and I have always said that with 1.2 billion people there must be a Lewis Hamilton in there somewhere! We will keep our eyes peeled and if, or when, the time is right, you'll see it happen.
“Giancarlo and Adrian worked well for us in 2008. We certainly benefited from having Giancarlo's experience and Adrian is a hungry, upcoming driver who also knows the team well. It was the best driver combination available at the time.”
Despite the lack of a 'home grown' driver in the line-up, Mallya said the reaction back in India continued to be positive, with the team continuing to hit the headlines.
“I think the prospects are bright, challenging and exciting,” he said. “India has a strong, young and upwardly mobile middle class. The Indian economy is expected to grow at seven per cent despite the global economic meltdown and the quest for entertainment is growing.
“Force India have partnered with MTV to produce a reality show called 'Fast and Gorgeous' to identify four speed divas who will represent Force India during race weekends. This is expected to add great excitement amongst the youth and add further to the exponentially growing F1 television audience in India. There is also great media interest with national newspapers, whose circulation is amongst the highest in the world, regularly featuring the Force India Formula One Team.”