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Fernandes unsure over Chandhok outing

12 October 2011

Tony Fernandes admits he is unsure whether Karun Chandhok will get the chance to contest the Indian Grand Prix with Team Lotus.

Chandhok joined the team as test and reserve driver at the start of the year, although he was given the chance to contest the German GP when named as replacement for race driver Jarno Trulli.

Aside from that race at the Nurburgring, Chandhok's outings have been restricted to Friday practice although speculation has suggested that he could be given a race seat for the first F1 race on Indian soil later this month.

However, with the team currently fighting to secure tenth in the constructors' championship and with the extra pressure that Chandhok would face in a race seat, Fernandes said he wasn't sure if any changes would be made to the Lotus driver line-up, with the decision being left to the team as to who would race the two cars.

“Karun is a hugely talented, passionate guy who has been a shining star for us ever since he joined our team,” he told the official F1 website. “His enthusiasm for the sport is infectious and his dedication to the cause is second to none. He's also held in very high regard, not just in India where he is obviously a huge star, but also around the world, where people recognize him as not just another F1 driver, but one who knows how fans feel. He loves it all and he's been a brilliant ambassador for us since day one.

“With that in mind, emotionally, I'd like to see him in the car, but practically there's no point in putting him in just for the sake of it. We have two extremely experienced race drivers and I've got to do what's right for them and for the team, not for Karun or for the Indian fans. But ultimately it's not my decision. I've told the team it's up to them. None of us wants to put him under even more pressure than he's already going to be under at his home race, and the truth is we have to focus on securing tenth place.

“When we ran him in Germany he did what we asked him to do. He did the best job he could in a car he had hardly run in, and despite what people think, it is impossible to just jump into the cockpit and be as quick as your team mate. You need time to dial the car in as you would like, time to get up to speed and time to have the confidence to attack. He showed in FP1 in Suzuka that when we ask him to do a job on a track he doesn't know he just gets on with it. He does exactly what's required, but that's without the pressure of a full race weekend.

“So in short, I don't know. My heart would love to see him race there. Emotionally it makes sense, but we have to come tenth and we have the right people to do that for us.”


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