India's Karun Chandhok has insisted that his appointment as official reserve driver for Team Lotus will pay off in the 'long term' - and that it is a 'great opportunity' for him to 'grow' as an F1 driver.
Chandhok made his debut at the pinnacle of the sport last year, when he signed up with Hispania. However he was dropped mid-day through the season. The deal with Tony Fernandes' outfit though could help pave the way for him to return to the grid and he will now get the chance to participate in a number of grand prix practice sessions, including FP1 in Melbourne this weekend, as he looks to impress and prove he deserves a race-seat in the future.
“In some ways, one can say that it is a setback to my career as I raced last year,” he told Indian news agency, PTI
this week following confirmation of the deal with Team Lotus [see separate story - click here
]. “But I am with a better team this year and am looking at more performances. From outside it may seem that I have taken a step backwards but actually being there in the F1 circuit it is like taking two steps forward.
“I am very excited to be a part of Team Lotus. It feels really good to be back in the F1 car. It has been some time now. Come Friday I will be back behind the wheels. And it will be important to have a more sensible approach. It will be a great opportunity to grow as a F1 driver.”
Pressed on if he might get the chance to race this season, perhaps at the inaugural Indian Grand Prix
in front of his home fans, Chandhok hinted that could be a possibility.
“Heikki [Kovalainen] and Jarno [Trulli] are the main drivers and the team has its own plans,” said the 27-year old. “I might [race in India], I might not, only time will tell.”
“In terms of my long-term future [though] I think this is very good,” Karun continued. “I am not expecting that something great will happen over this weekend or next month or for that matter even the next six months.
“But I feel me and Tony, with who I am great friends, have a good potential to do good things together. Lotus is a passionate new team. Myself and Tony share a common vision.
“He is very keen that more and more Asian drivers and teams come into F1, which is great.”