In what can be considered as sad news for Indian motorsport fans, Karun Chandhok has declared that he will not race in the 2012 Formula One season while Narain Karthikeyan is still struggling to earn a racing seat.
The 2012 Formula One season is set kick off in about two months from now and there are only two seats available - one with Hispania and one with Williams - which Karthikeyan may try and clinch.
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 enjoy.
The situation was expected to change a bit after the success of the inaugural Indian Grand Prix but both the racers are likely 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 Indian GP.
The picture is not rosy this season, beginning at Melbourne from March 16, as Chandhok admitted that he will 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’s break. But with the holiday season now behind us we should be able to go ahead with our discussions as nothing has been finalised 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 the Friday’s F1 practice sessions.
“It’s frustrating to watch the races and not doing it. But it is unlikely that I will race in 2012. The next best option is to continue as test and reserve driver and for that I am still talking to teams,” Chandhok said.
“You know the way F1 is. A lot 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 analysing the sport. ”
The two drivers feel that the Indian GP may not have been too beneficial for them individually but said it will certainly boost the future of the sport in the country.
“May be 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 that things will change but it will take some time.
“Indian GP undoubtedly did a sterling job of 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 response after the GP as corporates 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, but now we need more national motorsport to adequately exploit that potential. In that sense, 2012 should be a landmark year for Indian motorsport.”
Talking about the upcoming i1 Super Series, Chandhok said he will race in the new event for the sake of the sport in the country.
“As an ambassador of the sport in India, 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 (Gianracrlo) Fisichella.”
Karthikeyan, however, said he has not yet decided if he would participate in the event.