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Chandhok, Karthikeyan hit back at Mallya criticism

Vijay Mallya has come under fire for claiming that there are currently no Indian drivers good enough for F1, with Karun Chandhok and Narain Karthikeyan accusing the Force India owner of missing the point
Karun Chandhok and Narain Karthikeyan have responded to Vijay Mallya's criticism of them and dismissive claim that there are currently no Indian drivers good enough for his team in F1, by accusing him of not being in possession of 'the facts' and arguing that he is going about the whole process the wrong way.

Force India F1 owner Mallya asserted that he should not be lambasted for not running an Indian driver at the Silverstone-based squad, hinting that the present standard – or, to put it another way, Messrs. Chandhok and Karthikeyan – is not sufficiently high as to merit a seat there.

He revealed, moreover, that he 'feels very sorry' for his two countrymen who are 'getting drives by the teams who clearly can't compete' and doing so merely 'for the sake of driving an F1 car...and winding up at the back' [see separate story – click here]. Both Chandhok and Karthikeyan have raced for tailenders Hispania Racing (HRT), in 2010 and 2011 respectively.

Mallya went on to stress that 'there has got to be good, raw talent in India', adding that he is 'determined to go [and] find it' through his pioneering 'One in a Billion' initiative, by which he will endeavour to unearth an Indian Lewis Hamilton at karting circuits across the country. Chandhok suggests the Kingfisher Airlines billionaire is missing the point.

“I think it's a bit sad that in one breath the chairman of our Indian ASN (national sporting authority) is talking about how much he has done for Indian drivers, and then in the next breath he is criticising India's only two F1 drivers,” the current Team Lotus reserve – whose father Vicky is president of the Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India – told Reuters. “If you are going to criticise people, at least do it with some facts. Having never tested either Narain or myself in one of his cars, he doesn't have the facts.

“I understand the need to find the next Indian star – and I use the word 'next', not 'first' – and the need to create more Indian F1 drivers, but you are not going to find the next Indian star by running events in single-engined, four-stroke rental karts on 400-metre tracks made out of concrete.”

Chandhok instead espoused the JK Tyre Rotax Max Challenge with which he is involved – “The Rotax karts are the same as used elsewhere in the world, you send drivers to the world final and that's where you are going to find the next generation of drivers,” he reasoned – and affirmed that personally, he is very content to be where he is, thank you very much.

“I am very happy to be in a team where the shareholders and the CEO are 100 per cent supportive, in a team where I feel 100 per cent wanted,” the 27-year-old fired back, in a pointed barb at his detractor. “I feel a long-term potential to build a truly Asian team, and I am very happy where I am.”

Midway through 2009, Mallya promised Chandhok a simulator try-out – an offer that never came to fruition – and he backed Karthikeyan in the latter's British F3 days, too. The former Jordan Grand Prix ace and Williams test-driver contends that just as Mexico had to wait 30 years for another F1 driver before Sergio Pérez arrived this season, so similarly might India find itself with a long fallow period once he and Chandhok have departed the scene – and to that end, he agrees that a bit of support right now wouldn't go amiss.

“Against all the odds, both of us have made it to F1,” remarked the 34-year-old, who has recently been dropped by Hispania in favour of Daniel Ricciardo, at least until October's inaugural Indian Grand Prix. “It doesn't matter who I drive for in the Indian Grand Prix; it's just a symbolic and historic moment, and one that can show aspiring young drivers what they can do with hard work and effort. The Tata Group is very supportive of what I do, and that's all that matters.”



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
26.05.2011- Press conference, Vijay Mallya (IND), Chairman and Managine Director Force India
Saturday Practice, Vijay Mallya (IND), Chairman and Managine Director Force India
Vijay Mallya (IND) Managing Director, Force India F1, Canadian F1 Grand Prix, Montreal, 6th-8th, June, 2008
Vijay Mallya (IND) Managing Director, Force India F1, Australian F1 Grand Prix, Albert Park, Melbourne, 14-16th, March, 2008
Vijay Mallya (IND) Managing Director, Force India F1, Canadian F1 Grand Prix, Montreal, 6th-8th, June, 2008
10.06.2011- Friday Practice 1, Narain Karthikeyan (IND), Hispania Racing F1 Team, HRT
26.05.2011- First Practice Session, Narain Karthikeyan (IND), Hispania Racing F1 Team, HRT
24.06.2011- Friday Practice 1, Narain Karthikeyan (IND), Hispania Racing F1 Team, HRT
10.06.2011- Friday Practice 1, Narain Karthikeyan (IND), Hispania Racing F1 Team, HRT
24.06.2011- Friday Practice 1, Karun Chandhok (IND), Test Driver, Team Lotus, TL11
25.05.2011- Karun Chandhok (IND), Test Driver, Team Lotus, TL11
25.03.2011- Friday Practice 1, Karun Chandhok (IND), Test Driver, Team Lotus, TL11
08.07.2011- Friday Practice 1, Karun Chandhok (IND), Test Driver, Team Lotus, TL11
08.07.2011- Friday Practice 1, Karun Chandhok (IND), Test Driver, Team Lotus, TL11
Friday Practice 1, Karun Chandhok (IND), Hispania Racing F1 Team (HRT), F110 and Vijay Mallya (IND), Chairman and Managine Director Force India
Karun Chandhok talks with Force India F1 boss Vijay Mallya at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium
Esteban Gutierrez joins Ferrari as test and reserve driver
F1 veteran David Coulthard wins Race of Champions

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neo - Unregistered

July 13, 2011 9:40 PM

F1 teams somewhat prefer to encourage drivers from the country they based at, if you are following F1 you should know this by now. McLaren has all british lineup, Merc has all german lineup,etc these things did not happen accidentally. Merc pushed button out to make way for another german. While this fat guy is making himself a fool, by claiming there are no Indian F1 drivers qualified when he never invited any of the two to test in his cars. Luckily other team bosses have good head, otherwise alonso would not be driving a ferrari now, he started his career with Minardi. The simple fact is he was to hog the limelight in Indian press, if he takes a Indian F1 then he will lose that. Overall what he said totally insensitive, irresponsible towards their career.

Ak - Unregistered

July 14, 2011 4:12 AM

I have been saying this time and again and I am not sure why most ppl dont understand this. 1. Brits support Jenson and Lewis more than they support Mclaren. when jenson was in brawn they supported him 2. Toyota, Honda, Mclaren, Mercedes and even Ferrari to some extent support in one way or the other, drivers from their country. 3. Mallya says he is patriotic. naming a yatch Indian princess and having grand parties is not patriotism. Chandhok is right, Mallya has done nothing for the sport in India. 4. Truth is relative. It is easy for someone to belive what media or a rich guy tells. It is a different story when u know something from ground up. 5. Tata believes in Narain and Airasia believes in Chandhok. I have seen them racing since 10 years. Every race and I am satisfied with what I saw. They are not the best. But they are better than those presently in F1 and as you saw with koba, being bad at gp2 with experience you can still roll heads in F1. Truth is relative and to each h



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