Chandhok signs up with Lotus

Indian named reserve driver for Tony Fernandes-headed team

Karun Chandhok

Karun Chandhok, who was ‘dropped’ from Hispania Racing Team in his debut season last year before the start of the German Grand Prix in favour of Sakon Yamamoto, returned to the fray but this time as the reserve driver for the Tony Fernandes-headed Team Lotus.

Chandhok will join main drivers Heikki Kovalainen of Finland and Jarno Trulli of Italy as the reserve while Brazilian Luiz Razia was named the third driver. Italian Davide Valsecchi and Portugese-Angolan Ricardo Teixeira were given the test drivers’ roles.

The 27-year-old Chennai-born driver, who has been in talks with Team Lotus for a while now, sealed the deal a couple of days ago. Chandhok will take part in a series of practice sessions including Free Practice One in Sunday’s Melbourne Grand Prix — the opening race of the season.

“I’ve been a little lost in terms of time zones and stuff,” Chandhok told Deccan Herald over telephone from Melbourne. “Every single time I manage to seal something just in the nick of time. I should open a lastminutedeal.com or something like that (laughs).”
“The deal has been on the cards for a while now but sometime in June last year -- in Monaco I guess -- is when Tony came up to me and we spoke about it. I’m really thrilled to be a part of Team Lotus,” said the Renault Formula Asia V6 champion. “Tony has wanted an all Asian team for a long time and I guess this is the start to the process.”
Chandhok, who had on his exit said that HRT did not quite gel with his long-term plans, said that Team Lotus is a great place to be at this juncture and thought of it as a promising long-term deal.

“I went to the factory and I’m truly in love with the kind of dedication, love and financial backing they have for the sport. I thought about it for a while and this is what is best for me.

“It’s been a while since I got into an F1 car and I wish I had more time to get used to the Pirellis (new Formula One tyres). At Free Practice, I’m not going to be heroic and stuff, I’m just going to take it slow and stick by it. Let’s see how things shape up,”.

When asked if he will get a chance to drive as the main driver in the Indian Grand Prix in Noida on October 30, Chandhok said: “Heikki and Jarno are the main drivers and the team has its own plans. I might, I might not, only time will tell.”

Chandhok’s compatriot Narain Karthikeyen will be driving for HRT as the main driver this season.

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