Chandhok pulls out of F1

Karun Chandhok

Karun Chandhok has declared he will not race in the 2012 Formula One season and Narain Karthikeyan is still struggling to earn a racing seat. The 2012 Formula One season is set to kick off in about two months from now and there are only two seats available — one with Hispania and the other with Williams — which Karthikeyan can try and grab. The two Indian racers are frustrated but can't do much as drivers from small teams require massive financial backing, which neither Chandhok nor Karthikeyan enjoys.

The situation was expected to change a bit after the success of the inaugural Indian Grand Prix but both the racers are expected to spend the 2012 season on the sidelines. Chandhok was with Lotus, to be known as Caterham from 2012, and Karthikeyan, with Hispania, in the 2011 season. While Chandhok could race just once, in the German Grand Prix, Karthikeyan was replaced by Daniel Ricciardo in the second half of the season with the exception of the Indian GP.

The picture is not rosy for this season, beginning at Melbourne on 16 March, as Chandhok admitted he would have to continue as a test-and-reserve driver with one of the teams. Karthikeyan, who had a one-year contract with Hispania, is not yet certain whether he will get to race in 2012. He is still negotiating with Hispania but nothing concrete has come up as yet.

“Things have been a little slow, to be honest, with the Christmas and New Year breaks. But with the holiday season now behind us, we should be able to go ahead with our discussions as nothing has been finalized yet," Karthikeyan said. “There are only a few seats available on the grid for next year, so it's open, I guess. We are hoping for the best. It is a question of many things coming together, not just what I want. So it is all up in the air as of now," Karthikeyan added.

Chandhok has now planned to race in the resurrected World Endurance Championship in North America and Europe as he will have plenty of time after Friday's F1 practice sessions.

“It's frustrating to watch the races and not be doing it. But it is unlikely that I will race in 2012. The next best option is to continue as a test-and-reserve driver and for that I am still talking to the teams," Chandhok said.

“You know the way F1 is. Lots of decisions are made on commercial considerations. It's tough for us. It's not that people from the corporate world have not spoken to us but they are still analyzing the sport. "The two drivers feel that the Indian GP may not have been too beneficial for them individually but said it would certainly boost the future of the sport in the country. “Maybe the Indian GP has not benefited Karun and Narain but it will certainly help the future generation of Indian drivers. It does not change overnight," Chandhok said.

Karthikeyan also felt things would change but it would take some time.

“The Indian GP undoubtedly did a sterling job, bringing motorsport into the limelight in our country, but if you're expecting miracles overnight it isn't going to happen. “Personally, I have seen a lot of positive responses after the GP as corporate houses and people in general are more aware of what it brings to the table," he said. “We have to be patient though: India is in its motorsport infancy and you just can't expect it to skip tens of years in progression because we hosted an F1 race. The GP was what we need to kick-start it, now we need more national motorsport adequately to exploit that potential. In that sense, 2012 should be a landmark year for Indian motorsport."

Talking about the i1 Super Series, Chandhok said he would race in the new event for the sake of the sport in the country. “As an ambassador of the sport, I need to support initiatives like this. It's a good opportunity for young Indian drivers. They will have a lot to learn from racers such as (Giancarlo) Fisichella." Karthikeyan, however, said he had not yet decided if he would participate in the event.

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