Indian Grand Prix:Team Lotus oust Chandhok
The Malaysian team chose to field experienced Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen in Sunday`s Indian GP and termed the decision as "pragmatic" as it aims to finish 10th in the constructors` championship.
It means that Narain Karthikeyan, who races for Hispania, will be the only Indian driver in the inaugural F1 race in the country. Chandhok, who is India`s second Formula One driver, had joined the side as a reserve driver for the 2011 season but had a chance to race at German Grand Prix in place of Trulli.
Lotus are 10th in the team standings, ahead of Hispania and Virgin. All three teams are yet to score a point this season. Lotus Team Principal Tony Fernandes said fielding an under-prepared Chandhok would not be in the interest of the side.
"While all the emotional reasons for him driving were right, we were conscious that the limited running he has had in the car this season, largely due to the weather conditions that have hit most of his FP1 sessions, has not given him the best preparation for this race. So we have taken the very difficult decision not to run him in this weekend," Fernandes said. Fernandes said Chandhok would have faced a lot of pressure due to the event being his first home race.
"It is absolutely vital that we secure 10th place in 2011 to give us the platform to keep growing….It was considered too much pressure to put on Karun to drive in his first home race, deal with all the attention he would have had, and be able to perform at the same level as either of our regular race drivers over the whole weekend.
"For that reason we had to take the pragmatic decision to put our faith in the experience and pace we have in Jarno and Heikki," Fernandes said. The Team Lotus boss though said "there will be many opportunities to race in India in the future" for Chandhok.
The 27-year-old Indian race he is disappointed but he has taken the decision in his stride. "I am very excited about driving at the new Buddh International Circuit in FP1 in front of my home crowd and while I am obviously disappointed that I won`t have the chance to race on Sunday, I accept the team`s decision to opt for the experience and talent they have at their disposal with Jarno and Heikki," he said.
"Sometimes the hard decisions have to be made, and in this case it must have been a very difficult choice. But I understand that this isn`t about me. It`s about the team and everything the 254 people on track and back at the factory are doing to build for the future," he added.