Karun Chandhok has missed out on the chance to compete in the inaugural Indian Grand Prix after Team Lotus elected to stick with regular drivers Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli for the event.
Chandhok had hoped to be given the chance to race in the first F1 event in his home nation and was tipped to make his second outing for Lotus in place of Jarno Trulli – the same man he replaced for the German Grand Prix earlier in the year.
However, with the team fighting hard to secure tenth place in the constructors' championship, the decision has been taken to stick with Kovalainen and Trulli for the race with Chandhok having to settle for an outing in Friday practice instead.
“From the team perspective the key goal for us this weekend is to maintain the performance levels we saw in the last two races and while I am sure there will be fans in India who want to see Karun race for us on Sunday we had to make the best decision for the future of the team,” team boss Tony Fernandes said. “While all the emotional reasons for him driving were right we were conscious that the limited running he has had in the car this season, largely due to the weather conditions that have hit most of his FP1 sessions, has not given him the best preparation for this race, so we have taken the very difficult decision not to run him in the race this weekend.
“It is absolutely vital that we secure tenth place in 2011 to give us the platform to keep growing and despite the fact that Karun's performance levels have continued to improve every time he has driven for us in 2011, it was considered too much pressure to put on Karun to drive in his first home race, deal with all the attention he would have had and be able to perform at the same level as either of our regular race drivers over the whole weekend. For that reason we had to take the pragmatic decision to put our faith in the experience and pace we have in Jarno and Heikki, and are confident they will continue to perform at the level they have over the last two years with us.
“While this is obviously not the decision Karun wanted us to take he understands that we have to take the long-term view and do so in the best interests of the team. He also understands that his relationship with our team is not about just one race, it is about growing together and while this is an historic event, there will be many opportunities to race in India in the future, and he is in the best possible place with us to take advantage of those chances in seasons to come.”
Lotus' decision means Narain Karthikeyan at HRT will be the lone Indian driver in the race.