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Mallya: No Indian driver good enough for F1

Karun Chandhok's hopes of graduating to Formula 1 next year have taken a nosedive after Force India F1 chairman and team principal Dr Vijay Mallya spoke out against 'the drama about this Indian driver thing', arguing that none of his countrymen are presently good enough to make the grade in the top flight.

The sport's commercial rights chief executive Bernie Ecclestone initiated a lively debate recently when he contended that rather than promoting test and reserve driver Vitantonio Liuzzi, Mallya should instead have given GP2 star Chandhok a chance to prove his mettle at the highest level for the final five races of the 2009 campaign in place of the Ferrari-bound Giancarlo Fisichella [see separate story – click here].

Mallya responded by agreeing to give Chandhok a run on his team's simulator – in company, it was later revealed, with former A1GP Champion Neel Jani – but it is clear that the Kingfisher Airlines billionaire remains unconvinced that his young compatriot will impress.

The 25-year-old produced some eye-catching lap times during his only previous F1 test for Red Bull Racing at Barcelona in late 2007 – lapping within seven tenths of a second of RBR regular and 13-time grand prix-winner David Coulthard – but he took the chequered flag just 19th and twelfth in his two most recent GP2 outings for ORT at Monza, on a weekend when Mallya claimed he had been inundated with contact from drivers and managers enquiring about future possibilities with the rapidly-improving Silverstone-based squad [see separate story – click here].

“My job is to make sure that the team is successful,” the 53-year-old told PTI, admitting that he could not understand just why there is so much pressure upon him to take on a driver he describes as being almost like a son to him. “Whichever driver I need, that is completely my decision. I want someone to convince me and justify the drama about this Indian driver thing. The fact remains [that] right now no Indian driver is good enough for Formula 1.

“Force India carries the hope of a billion, and I too would love to have an Indian driver but he must be good enough. There is no rule – even though some people propagate otherwise – that you have to have a driver of a particular nationality. We need only the best drivers to get the maximum performance.

“First and foremost, FIA rules say a driver must finish among the top three in the GP2 championship before he becomes eligible for an F1 super-licence. Now, if the FIA would like to make an exception for Karun, that's their business, not mine.

“I told Karun clearly that he needs to win some GP2 races and give me the confidence that he is up to the mark. If he doesn't achieve that – he tells me his GP2 car is not good enough – he has to go through the simulator and prove how good he is with the F1 car.”

Chandhok is understood to have joked that the simulator is something more akin to a glorious toy rather than a bona fide F1 test, but Mallya – whose team has become increasingly courted in recent weeks as the performance of the Mercedes-powered VJM02 has sky-rocketed – suggested that the man from Chennai should grasp any opportunity he is given.




Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Vijay Mallya (IND) Managing Director, Force India F1, Canadian F1 Grand Prix, Montreal, 6th-8th, June, 2008
Coulthard WRC Monaco
(L to R): Carlos Slim Domit (MEX) Businessman; Miguel Angel Mancera (MEX) Mayor of Mexico City; Francisco Maass Pena (MEX) Deputy Minister for Tourism; Alejandro Soberon (MEX) Corporacion Interamericana CEO.
21.01.2015.
Sergio Perez (MEX) Sahara Force India F1 signs autographs for the fans.
21.01.2015.
Sergio Perez (MEX) Sahara Force India F1 signs autographs for the fans.
21.01.2015.
(L to R): Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Sahara Force India F1 with team mate Sergio Perez (MEX) Sahara Force India F1.
21.01.2015.
Sergio Perez (MEX) Sahara Force India F1.
21.01.2015.
(L to R): Sergio Perez (MEX) Sahara Force India F1 with team mate Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Sahara Force India F1.
21.01.2015.
(L to R): Carlos Slim Domit (MEX) Chairman of America Movil with Francisco Maass Pena (MEX) Deputy Minister for Tourism; Sergio Perez (MEX) Sahara Force India F1; Miguel Angel Mancera (MEX) Mayor of Mexico City; Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Sahara Force India F1; Dr. Vijay Mallya (IND) Sahara Force India F1 Team Owner; Alejandro Soberon (MEX) Corporacion Interamericana CEO.
21.01.2015.  Force India F1 Team Livery Reveal, Soumaya Museum, Mexico City, Mexico.
(L to R): Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Sahara Force India F1 with Dr. Vijay Mallya (IND) Sahara Force India F1 Team Owner and Sergio Perez (MEX) Sahara Force India F1.
21.01.2015.
(L to R): Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Sahara Force India F1 with team mate Sergio Perez (MEX) Sahara Force India F1 and Dr. Vijay Mallya (IND) Sahara Force India F1 Team Owner.
21.01.2015.
(L to R): Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Sahara Force India F1 and Sergio Perez (MEX) Sahara Force India F1 reveal the 2015 Sahara Force India F1 Team livery.
21.01.2015.
Dr. Vijay Mallya (IND) Sahara Force India F1 Team Owner.
21.01.2015.
(L to R): Dr. Vijay Mallya (IND) Sahara Force India F1 Team Owner with Carlos Slim Domit (MEX) Chairman of America Movil.
21.01.2015.
Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Sahara Force India F1.,
21.01.2015.
Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Sahara Force India F1 with fans.
21.01.2015.
Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Sahara Force India F1 signs autographs for the fans.
21.01.2015.
The Sahara Force India F1 Team 2015 livery is revealed in the Soumaya Museum.
21.01.2015.

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Powerline 2008 - Unregistered

September 16, 2009 12:51 PM

First Mallya allowed Fisi to drive for Ferrari & stating that he won't stand in Fisi's way. Now he making an honest assessment about the ability of his own countrymen. This Mallya guy is really cool & honest. He's going to be good for F1.



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