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Chandhok signs deal with Stefan GP UPDATE #8 This is downgraded to False with the following quote from the team: "We have already agreed terms with Nakajima and we expect to conclude a deal with Villeneuve," the businessman continued. "We think it is a good decision for us and it makes sense for him."

02/18/10 (GMM)  Karun Chandhok has refused to confirm reports he has been signed by the hopeful Serbian team Stefan GP. The Swiss magazine Motorsport Aktuell this week said Chandhok, a 26-year-old GP2 driver from India, will be Kazuki Nakajima's teammate if the outfit is granted an official team entry. Chandhok reportedly has $6 million in sponsorship to offer, as well as solid links with Bernie Ecclestone and the FIA, with his father Vicky Chandhok a high-ranking Indian motor racing official.

Karun Chandhok
When contacted by DNA India, Chandhok did not deny that he has been in contact with Stefan GP, who intend to field the withdrawn Toyota's 2010 package in 2010.

"I am surprised to see the reports emerging, I haven't signed any contract with any team as of now," he said.

Germany's motorsport-total.com reports that Chandhok could be Stefan GP's test driver in 2010, with Jacques Villeneuve slated to race alongside Nakajima.

"For now it is all speculation, but I wish it comes true," he added.

"I have been speaking to teams since August 2009 and for now, I have kept my options open," said Chandhok, who is currently in India.  His father Vicky declined to comment.

02/17/10 (GMM)  Stefan GP is reported to have signed a driver to complete its 2010 lineup.

Although without an official entry to race this season, the Serbian outfit is believed to have already signed the Toyota-backed former Williams driver Kazuki Nakajima.

At least one of the Cologne-designed Stefan cars has been painted Serbian national red ahead of its track debut, which according to rumors could now take place at the Barcelona group test next week.

Switzerland's Motorsport Aktuell reports that 26-year-old Indian GP2 driver Karun Chandhok, with $6 million of sponsorship in tow, may have been signed to be Nakajima's teammate.  It is believed that Chandhok's GP2 contract, valid for 2010, contains an exit clause in the event that a formula one seat is available.

His father is Vicky Chandhok, a high ranking Indian motor racing official, with links to F1's governing body FIA.

Indian media reports late last year said Chandhok Snr has "a strong relationship" with F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone, as well as with "a host of top FIA officials". zzzz

02/17/10 Editors Note: Formula One, being the pinnacle of the sport, should be the one place where a driver can't buy a ride when there are other much better drivers sitting at home.

India's Karun Chandhok says he has a real chance of racing in Formula One next year after talks with all the new teams due to enter. My father, our sponsors, advisors and I have been quite busy at following the driver market in F1 and making sure we're talking to the right people," the 25-year-old Chennai-born driver told his personal website.

"But it's a very complicated time in F1 with a lot of unknowns.

"We've met with all the new teams and some of the existing ones to explore options for 2010.

"At the moment, I would say there are still three very realistic possibilities to race in Formula One next year but I don't think anything will be public for a few more weeks."

F1 is due to expand from the 10 teams this year to 13 teams in 2010, despite the departure of Toyota and BMW-Sauber.

Of the new teams, only Spain's Campos Meta has so far named a driver - Chandhok's former GP2 team-mate, Brazilian Bruno Senna.

"Of the 26 pieces in the F1 driver puzzle there are only maybe 10 that are in place so there's still a lot up in the air and I am still optimistic that something will work out," said Chandhok, who has won two races in GP2 and tested for Red Bull's F1 team in 2007.

Silverstone-based Force India, owned by Indian tycoon and family friend Vijay Mallya, has given Chandhok time in the McLaren simulator as part of an agreement with that team.

Swiss-born racer Neel Jani, who has an Indian father, has also been observed.

Force India have yet to confirm their 2010 line-up but are expected to stick with Germany's Adrian Sutil and Italian Vitantonio Liuzzi, who was the reserve until compatriot Giancarlo Fisichella went to Ferrari in September.

The team will be taking part in young driver testing in Spain in December and that could be an opportunity for Chandhok to try out their car. A Force India spokeswoman said nothing had been decided, however.

India's only F1 driver to date was Narain Karthikeyan with Jordan in 2005.

10/24/08 (GMM)  A deal for Karun Chandhok to become a Force India test driver in 2009 is set to go through in "the coming days", according to an Indian newspaper.

Chandhok, a 24-year-old Indian who this year raced in GP2, was quoted last month as saying that if he must test before he makes his F1 debut, he would prefer to do it with a top team.

But the Calcutta based broadsheet The Telegraph believes Chandhok will indeed accept countryman Vijay Mallya's offer of a Force India role, and combine it with another season of GP2 in 2009.

"It would be ideal for Chandhok if he gets a fully fledged testing role in 2009.

"Testing is restricted in F1 as a cost-cutting measure, so he can be both driving in GP2 and do the testing," sources told the newspaper.

09/09/08 (GMM)  Indian GP2 driver Karun Chandhok seems unlikely to move into a Force India test seat for the 2009 season.

Team supremo Vijay Mallya at Spa-Francorchamps suggested the 24-year-old is ready to test in formula one, but not make his grand prix debut perhaps until 2010.

"If there is an option to race with Force India, then that would be great," Chandhok told the Press Trust of India in Belgium last weekend.

He is however unenthusiastic about a testing-only deal with Force India, currently among the least competitive teams in F1.

"These days the testing rules mean that you get very limited driving as a test driver for any team, perhaps 5-6 days maximum in a whole year, which means that you spend a lot of time just watching other people driving around and getting rusty yourself," Chandhok explained.

"It's nice to hear that he would like me to be involved in the team and from a patriotic and emotional angle, that's great.  But at the end of the day, races and careers have to be tackled using head and not heart," he added.

Chandhok said that if his next step towards the grid needs to be a test driver's role, he would rather do it with a top team.

"I would love to test with a top team and I am in discussion with some of the teams further up the field, apart from Force India," he said.

08/11/08 Based on this rumor, it appears the best Chandhok will be in 2009 is a test driver for the Indian team, so we are downgrading this rumor to 'speculation.'

08/07/08 (GMM)  Karun Chandhok, an Indian driver currently racing in GP2, has burst back into the reckoning for a formula one seat in 2009.

Last year, the 24-year-old - who made his F1 test debut for Red Bull Racing at the end of 2007 - was linked strongly with a move to countryman Vijay Mallya's newly-acquired Force India team.

Mallya, however, said at the time that while he thought GP2 race winner Chandhok needed another year in the feeder series, Force India would "certainly" have an Indian driver in 2009.

The newspaper Asian Age claims Chandhok could drive either for the Silverstone-based squad, or even Toro Rosso.

Chandhok agrees that his chances of securing a Force India race drive are highest.

"It would be ideal to have an Indian team with a local driver to kindle the patriotism of fans, but I would like to have the seat for my quality, not just because of my nationality," he said.

"Therefore I am also keeping my options open."

Chandhok's father Vicky, a high ranking Indian motor racing official, has a close relationship with Mallya, who as well as owning Force India is the chief of the country's motor sports bodies.

Chandhok also said a test drive with Red Bull, a personal sponsor, was a possibility for next year.

He continued: "Both the seats in their sister team, Toro Rosso, are up for grabs.

"(And) apart from Red Bull I have been in touch with one of the front-running teams for testing."

08/06/08 India’s Karun Chandhok is all set to graduate to Formula One next year. The 24-year-old Chennai driver who has been driving in the GP2 series revealed that he has an option of choosing the driver seat either in Vijay Mallya’s -Force India or Toro Rosso. With Adrian Sutil’s contract with Force India expiring at the end of the 2008 season, the chances of Karun replacing the German are bright.

To add more strength to that, Mallya has been looking at the option of an Indian driver in the line-up before the F1 bandwagon comes to the country in 2010.

"It would be ideal to have an Indian team with a local driver to kindle the patriotism of fans, but I would like to have the seat for my quality, not just because of my nationality. Therefore I am also keeping my options open," Karun explained.

Karun shares a close relationship with Mallya, who is a long-time friend of his father Vicky Chandhok. He meets the flamboyant team owner at almost at all Grand Prix weekends. Apart from Mallya, Karun’s proximity to F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone is well known.

Karun also said he has been in negotiations with Red Bull Racing for a full time test driver’s role. The Austrian energy drink giants are sponsors of Karun in his GP2 campaign.

"RBR have already confirmed their 2009 line-up with Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel, while both the seats in their sister team, Toro Rosso, are up for grabs. Apart from Red Bull I have been in touch with one of the front-running teams for testing," said Karun, who had his first taste of an F1 car when he was invited to drive the Red Bull car at the end of the 2007 season.

Our 2009 F1 Silly Season page (above) will be updated with this information.

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