23 October 2010
Lotus to hire Chandhok as reserve
The paddock rumour mill in Korea suggests that Karun Chandhok could join Lotus next season, albeit initially in a reserve role.
Although Lotus Racing is expected to announce an unchanged line-up for its second season back in F1, the identity of its third driver could give a clue to the future direction of its squad.
Heikki Kovalainen may have been linked, briefly, to the second Renault seat alongside Robert Kubica for 2011, but is more likely to be named as team-mate to veteran Jarno Trulli whenever Lotus gets around to making an announcement that the paddock has anticipated for several weeks. CEO Tony Fernandes confirmed, controversially, that the team would adopt the Team Lotus moniker for next season as long ago as the Singapore Grand Prix, and has revealed since then that the 2011 car would utilise the rear end technology that has made Red Bull Racing a frontrunner, but news of both the driver line-up and engine partner - following the severing of ties with Cosworth - has yet to come.
While the racing line-up looks set to remain unchanged, however, the identity of Lotus' third driver remains unclear, amid rumours that the potential reserve could fill the cockpit at next month's 'young driver' test in Abu Dhabi. Suggestions in Korea, however, allude to Karun Chandhok getting the nod to replace Fairuz Fauzy in the back-up role, ahead of a race deal for 2012.
"Karun is a great guy, a hard worker, and comes from our part of the world, so let's see," Fernandes told BBC Sport.
The Indian began the current season as part of the Hispania Racing Team line-up alongside Bruno Senna but, despite bringing backing from the Jaypee Group at the British Grand Prix, found himself cast aside for Sakon Yamamoto at the very next round. Since then, Chandhok has divided his time between spectating and commentating and, despite India being due to join the F1 schedule next season, does not appear in the frame for a race seat as the few remaining are snapped up.
Ironically, the former GP2 race winner was the only driver with knowledge of the new Korea International Circuit prior to this weekend, having demonstrated a Red Bull show car there in the build-up to the event.
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