Karun Chandhok is not ready to make his Formula 1 debut in 2009 – that is the opinion of Vijay Mallya, whose Force India outfit is one of two with which the GP2 Series front-runner has been linked for next year.
Chandhok currently sits tenth in the drivers' standings approaching the end of his second season in the F1 feeder category, displaying encouraging pace for reigning championship-winning squad iSport International but all-too often being on the receiving end of either bad luck – or his own errors.
That has seen the Indian fail to match the form of team-mate Bruno Senna, similarly linked with promotion to the top flight in 2009. Despite an impressive test for Red Bull Racing in Spain towards the end of last year – causing him to be mooted as a possible Scuderia Toro Rosso candidate too – Mallya suggests his 24-year-old countryman is not yet fully-prepared for life in the uppermost echelon.
“I would love to give Karun a go as a test driver,” the Kingfisher Airlines billionaire and Force India F1 chairman admitted, having previously stated that he would be keen to employ an Indian star as one of the Silverstone-based concern's full-time race drivers next season. “He is a year away from a race seat. I need to see him consistently winning in GP2, not an odd race here and there.
“At the end of the day, on the one hand I cannot be encouraging the team's performance, and then do something that might compromise the result.”
Mallya also suggested that the former Spyker squad – whose current test driver is former RBR and STR ace Vitantonio Liuzzi – would likely retain the experienced Giancarlo Fisichella and young gun Adrian Sutil in 2009, with both men believed to have options in their contracts for next year.