Whilst continuing to deny that he has signed any kind of contract with F1 2010 hopeful Stefan GP, Karun Chandhok has now conceded that he has had 'conversations' with the Serbian operation and that there is 'a chance' of him joining the grand prix grid this season.
That, of course, hinges entirely upon whether or not Stefan GP is there itself, as the fate of the Zoran Stefanovic-led outfit – which has purchased the TF110 chassis' and has the use of some of the Cologne-based F1 headquarters of the defunct Toyota concern, and whose cause is being regularly championed by the sport's influential commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone – rests largely upon the success or failure of financially-troubled newcomers USF1 and Campos Meta 1 to make the grade. Both currently look anything but likely to line up on the starting grid for the curtain-raising Bahrain Grand Prix in Sakhir in three weeks' time.
Whilst long-time Toyota protégé and Williams F1 refugee Kazuki Nakajima appears to be all-but a shoo-in to occupy one of the two cockpits should Stefan GP indeed be invited into the fold this year – after Stefanovic admitted that one of his two drivers 'will be Japanese', ostensibly as part of his agreement with the world's largest car manufacturer – the other seat remains available, and in addition to former F1 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve and six-time grand prix-winner Ralf Schumacher, the name of popular GP2 Series front-runner Chandhok has been linked to it [see separate story – click here
]. Nothing to report, the Indian affirms – not yet, at least.
“To be honest, I was very surprised to see so many stories on the internet,” the 26-year-old told 422race.com
, “because I have no agreement with Stefan GP. I've not signed any contract; there's nothing in-place for me to be racing with Stefan GP. As we speak, I don't think they [even] have an entry [for 2010], so at the moment the story is not true.
“I wouldn't say there are negotiations; I can say we have had conversations with the team – but in the same way I've also had conversations with Renault, with Virgin, with Toro Rosso, with Campos, with everybody. My job is to speak with all the teams and to see if there's something in Formula 1, and in the same way I spoke to Stefan GP – but there's no contract, there's no agreement, nothing.
“The situation is that today you can't discuss so seriously with a team when you don't know what they're going to do. If they get an entry, then we can talk more seriously, but even then, maybe we won't have a contract. I'm saying there is a limit [to] how serious you can talk to somebody until you know the full story. There's no guarantee that I will be with them, even if they get the entry – but we will talk more seriously then.
“There's a chance [of him being in F1 in 2010]. Like I said, we are talking to Stefan GP. If they get an entry, then we will talk and see if it's possible to do something. My dream is to race in Formula 1, [and] if there's a chance to do it with somebody, then for sure I'll try and push – but at this moment there is no agreement with any team.”
Should that situation persist and his top flight ambitions be frustrated for another year, Chandhok – who impressed on his sole F1 testing outing to-date, for Red Bull Racing around Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya in late 2007 – admitted that his most likely fallback option is a fourth consecutive campaign in the feeder GP2 category, eschewing the sportscar route taken by former iSport International team-mate and new Campos debutant Bruno Senna last year.
“I think what Bruno did was not such a good idea,” opined the man from Chennai. “To be one year out of the car, racing some races in LMP, he got injured two or three times. I think it's not so good to miss one year racing at the top level. If you race in GP2 it's good, because the cars are quick and close to F1 – so my plan would be to do GP2 again. There are two or three [teams to choose from], but I can't say at the moment. There are not so many seats left, so I'm sure you can figure it out...”