Indian driver Karun Chandhok has been appointed as a reserve driver by Team Lotus for the 2011 Formula One season and will begin his duties on Friday driving in the first practice session of the season—opening Australian Grand Prix.
The 27—year—old Indian, who raced the first half of last season with Hispania, will return to the formula one seat joining Race Drivers Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli, Third Driver Luiz Razia and Test Drivers Davide Valsecchi and Ricardo Teixeira.
“I’ve been talking to the team for quite a while about a role with them and I’m delighted we’re now able to confirm that I will be driving for Team Lotus in 2011,” Chandhok said in a statement.
Chandhok seemed to have been left with few options earlier this month when Lotus named Luiz Razia as their third driver and said the Brazilian would take part in some practice sessions.
However, the team announced today that the Indian will drive in Friday’s first practice session of the season—opening Australian Grand Prix.
“The details of exactly which sessions I will be in the car for are being worked out now and after having spent some time with them at the recent pre—season tests I can see exactly how passionate everyone in Team Lotus is about taking this team back to the top of the F1 grid.
“These are very exciting times for Team Lotus and it’s a real honour to be able to play a part in helping shape this team’s future. I want to thank Tony, Din, Nasa, Riad and Mike for having the faith in me to give me a chance to help the team develop and I’ll do my best to repay that faith wherever I can,” Chandhok added.
Team Lotus made its debut in Formula One last year but failed to score a point.
Team Principal Tony Fernandes termed Chandhok as the future of motor racing and said the team was excited about working with the Indian talent.
“This is another great day for Team Lotus. Karun’s appointment to our team gives us not only his immense driving talent and F1 experience, both of which will help us develop the car even further, but also brings one of the warmest, most professional personalities I have the pleasure of knowing into the Team Lotus family,” he said.
“I do not think it is going too far to say that Karun represents the future of motor racing — he is living proof that geography is no boundary to talent and ambition and that you will succeed if you work hard and keep dreaming”, Fernandes said.
“He is fiercely proud of his Indian heritage but he has a truly global outlook and I am honoured that Team Lotus is now giving one of India’s brightest stars the chance to continue to develop his talent. Everyone in the team is excited about working with Karun, and I cannot wait to see him representing the Indian nation in our car,” he added.
Team Lotus said Chandhok’s technical input will provide the outfit valuable insights and help in optimising performance.
"He will be taking part in a number of Friday Practice sessions for Team Lotus including FP1 in Melbourne and his technical input and obvious talent will provide the team with more valuable insights into how to optimise the T128’s performance potential on—track, alongside his ambassadorial role for the team as one of its official drivers,” the statement said.