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Chandhok eyes sportscar switch as F1 doors close

27 December 2011

One-time Team Lotus race driver Karun Chandhok has admitted that he will have to look elsewhere to keep his hand in this season as doors continue to close on his options in F1.

The Indian, who also made a handful of Friday appearances with the Hingham team during 2011, continues to search for a race seat in the top flight for next year but, with Williams and former employer HRT holding the only unfilled vacancies, he concedes that he will probably have to consider other series in search of a chance to compete in 2012.

While he remains open to another reserve role - and could yet return to Team Lotus' latest incarnation, Caterham F1, despite a reported breakdown in relations after he was denied the chance to race in his homeland in October - Chandhok has revealed that he will consider sportscars as a means of keeping his hand in. He made nine forays into Friday free practice last season, and raced once - in Germany - after replacing veteran Jarno Trulli in the second Lotus entry, but accepts that he needs greater competitive action in 2012.

"It's very difficult to secure a seat in F1 unless you have substantial financial backing, [and] another year as the reserve driver is not something that I want to do, although I am still in talks with a couple of F1 teams for that role," Chandhok told Times of India over Christmas, "I want to be back racing next year in some way or the other, [and] the best option for me will be to combine some Friday test sessions in F1 with the World Endurance Championships. I am in talks with three or four teams in the Endurance Championships and hope to finalise [something] by the middle of next month."

The sportscar series will also allow Chandhok to add another of the sport's biggest races to his resume.

"I have already driven at Monaco, Silverstone and now even in India, so Le Mans 24-hour is going to another thing I can tick off," he noted, "It's going to be a different sort of experience for me. Generally, more than two drivers share a drive and as a result, the car is not completely optimised for an individual, so, it's going to be new for me."

Before he can return to F1 action, however, Chandhok will get a little race action - and sportscar practice - when he contests the inaugural i1 Super Series, which takes place in India and across the Middle East.

"The real reason I got into it was what the series will do for the development of India motorsports," he explained, "It's not often that young Indian drivers get to drive on F1 tracks and interact with top drivers like Giancarlo Fisichella and Jean Alesi."


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