Last year F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone hinted that Force India owner Vijay Mallya should hire Karun Chandhok for his team. The press, rightfully, carried the story when Mallya said no, there wasn’t an Indian driver he would be interested in. The notion hasn’t changed yet and while Ecclestone supports Mallya’s decision to not hire an Indian driver to drive around behind everyone, he was instrumental in getting Chandhok a ride at Hispania Racing Team (HRT). That would be the team that has Chandhok driving around the track behind everyone. Ecclestone said:
“…(it) would be extremely negative. In this case Vijay would have achieved the exact opposite of what he wanted to,” the F1 boss told the offical Formula One website.
“To choose an Indian driver who just runs after all the others is no use to anybody. It would be counterproductive,”
So are we swimming in “counterproductive” waters here with Chandhok? If you believe his lack of pace is merely the car, and there is every reason to think that, then we are safe of being irrelevant. But if you believe Mallya when he says:
“I would love it. I’m not a fool and can see the enormous publicity potential which would come from it,” Mallya said.
“The downside at the moment is that there is not one Indian pilot who has the potential to battle the best on the track,”
You would have to assume that Mallya still feels Chandhok is not a comprehensive option for F1. If Chandhok isn’t capable of battling with the other top drivers, then he clearly is driving around behind everyone else right?
Actually that may not be the case. He is doing better than his teammate and while attrition and host of other issues have played into the comparison, the HRT drivers can only really be compared to themselves at this point. Chandhok has made a good name for himself with F1 fans. They love his happy demeanor and the genuine excitement he exudes just being in F1. It is refreshing to see a young man, regardless of nationality, be this excited about his station in life and opportunity in F1.
I think Chandhok has acquitted himself well in F1. He is no Alonso or Hamilton but then few are. He is, however, and Indian driver that I think has yet to show his full potential and like Ecclestone, I think he’s been terrific for F1 this season.