Chandhok set for F1 graduation?

India could soon have a second driver to make the grade in F1, with Karun Chandhok rumoured to be on the verge of a deal with Stefan GP.

While Kazuki Nakajima, Takuma Sato and Ralf Schumacher have all been mentioned in connection with a seat as Formula One hopeful Stefan GP, the latest rumour suggests that India's Karun Chandhok could be revealed as the team's first signing.

Switzerland's Motorsport Aktuell is claiming that the 26-year old GP2 Series racewinner is poised to take up a role with the ambitious Serbian outfit, despite having a current commitment to the F1 feeder series for 2010, and in spite of Stefan GP having yet to be allocated a spot on the grand prix grid.

The team, which made no secret of its disappointment at being overlooked as one of this year's four F1 newcomers, has pressed ahead with its plans to join the field, and has shipped equipment to Bahrain lest an opportunity to replace either USF1 or Campos Meta appear at the last minute. Team owner Zoran Stefanovich has this week called for the entry to be expanded to include a 14th team so that his operation can take part regardless of the future of the two ailing hopefuls [see story here].

The team was also planning to test at least one of its ex-Toyota F1 cars in Portugal this week, although rumours suggest that the outing may be switched to the Spanish Grand Prix venue at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona. No driver has been named for the outing but, should it take place, it could give the first clue to the identity of the team's possible line-up.

While speculation surrounding a second Schumacher comeback in 2010 remains rife, Chandhok appears to have moved into pole position for one of the Stefan GP seats, most likely partnering Williams refugee Nakajima. Both drivers are believed to be able to bring notable sponsorship dollars to the team, while the Chandhok family has strong affinity with F1 commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone, who has already lent public support to the Stefan GP effort amid personal claims that neither Campos Meta or USF1 will make it to the grid in Bahrain next month [see story here].

Chandhok's record in GP2 includes a couple of wins during time spent with Durango, iSport and Ocean Racing Technology.

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