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Ecclestone: Chandhok`s `place is in F1`.

Flying in the face of comments made by Force India F1 managing director and team principal Vijay Mallya last week, a number of the sport's leading figures have come out in support of GP2 Series star Karun Chandhok, claiming that he deserves to be in the top flight.

In explaining his retention of both Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil at the Silverstone-based squad in 2009, Mallya suggested that neither Chandhok – who has won two races in Formula 1's feeder category, at Spa-Francorchamps in 2007 and Hockenheim in 2008, and tested impressively for Red Bull Racing at Barcelona in late 2007 – nor compatriot Narain Karthikeyan are good enough for promotion.

Whilst A1GP star Karthikeyan has angrily responded to accusations that he would 'not fit in' by describing Force India as a team that is 'low on performance and loud on talk' [see separate story – click here], Chandhok has maintained a judicious silence, but others have sprung to his defence.

“The time is getting closer for Formula 1 to be in India, which is something I am really enthusiastic about,” F1 commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone – who intends adding an Indian Grand Prix to the sport's calendar in 2011 – told the Hindustan Times.

“Hopefully Karun will be part of it. His place is in Formula 1.”

“Karun has the potential and he has the speed,” added Bruno Senna, the 24-year-old's 2008 GP2 team-mate at iSport International. “He can only be judged after a proper opportunity.”

Mallya argued that Chandhok did not impress sufficiently in F1's ante-chamber this year, whilst Karthikeyan previously competed in the uppermost echelon for Jordan Grand Prix back in 2005, and was a test driver for Williams until the end of the 2007 season.

Following that he went on to race in the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport, securing his nation's maiden international success at such a high level at Zhuhai in China twelve months ago.

“F1 is all about the car you are given,” contended Karthikeyan's Jordan team-mate from three years ago, current SEAT World Touring Car Championship ace Tiago Monteiro. “Give Narain a race-winning car and he will win races, I can guarantee you.”

“I disagree with the statement (made by Mallya),” added legendary former double F1 World Champion Emerson Fittipaldi. “A non-grand prix driver cannot give an opinion as to a driver's abilities.



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Chris - Unregistered

December 27, 2008 4:52 PM

**** off Bernie. He doesnt deserve to be in F1 because he hasn''t ever won anything of real note. Its the same with Buemi. IIRC, Chandhoks wins came in Race 2 of those weekends and he was on Pole because he was 8th in Race One. Bruno Senna is rated highly, and blew Chandhok away last year. The only reason Bernie wants KC in F1 is because India have a GP in 2010 or 2011....

Damien - Unregistered

December 28, 2008 1:06 AM

I think in a way we are all turning our hatred towards Bernie and channelling it towards Chandhok...Unfortunately, he did not have the luck of the draw last year with several DNF's where he was either punted from behind or had technicalities....He still however have more fastest laps and Senna too admitted last year that Karun's race pace was incredible....Lets again remember that India is not known for its motorsporting ability and for someone like him to come through the ranks and perform in Asia and Europe and now be a front runner in Gp2...it sure is commendable...Sure, he needs to prove himself more, as did most guys that were given a break in F1..but i do think he deserves a good crack



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