As he remains uncertain of whether or not he will race again in F1 2010, Karun Chandhok has received a vote of confidence from two of the sport's highest-profile and most influential figures – with Bernie Ecclestone and Lewis Hamilton contending that the Indian deserves a better car with which to demonstrate his potential in 2011.
Having made his debut in the top flight back at the beginning of this season with newcomer Hispania Racing (HRT), Chandhok was 'rested' by the struggling Spanish outfit on the eve of the German Grand Prix in July in favour of the well-heeled Sakon Yamamoto, as the team endeavours to remain financially afloat with many forecasting its imminent demise.
The GP2 Series graduate has not raced since – instead joining BBC Radio Five Live
as a popular addition to its F1 commentary team – but he is working hard on a return to the grand prix grid, and in the ten appearances that he did make prior to Hockenheim, he clearly demonstrated enough to convince both Ecclestone and Hamilton that he is made of the right stuff to establish himself as a respectable contender at the highest level.
Ecclestone is particularly keen to see the 26-year-old rejoin the fray, eager for there to be an Indian driver in the field for the inaugural Indian Grand Prix in 2011 and well recognising Chandhok's ability to attract interest and sponsors in what the Formula One Management (FOM) chief executive describes as one of 'the most important and powerful players in the world of business, culture and sport'.
“Having an Indian team is obviously a big help,” the British billionaire told the Times of India
. “An Indian driver will be an even better deal. I definitely want to see Karun in a better car next year. He served his apprenticeship in a car that he could do nothing about. He really needs to be in a team where he can show his potential, because I think he can be very, very good if he gets the right car.”
“Karun is a very good driver,” concurred McLaren-Mercedes star and 2008 F1 World Champion Hamilton. “He understands the nuances of the sport very well, and if he is able to get a better car, he would be able to make a big difference.”