Mallya: Indian Drivers Not Ready to Make F1 Step

Vijay Mallya insisted that he will not favor Indian drivers for a racing seat in Formula 1 in the upcoming seasons. The Force India owner dismissed rumors than either Narain Kartikeyan or Karun Chandhok are on their way to making their F1 debut in the near future.

“In my F1 context, Narain doesn't fit in. I have not let my personal relationahip (with Karun Chandhok) come in between. Only the lack of suitable replacements has forced us to retain the same team for 2009. The normally expected GP2 graduation didn't happen this time,” Mallya was quoted as saying by the Asian Age.

If his position on Karthikeyan is no news, considering Mallya had suggested earlier this year that he has no plans of offering the former F1 driver a chance to make his return in the series with Force India, not offering Chandhok at least a testing seat for 2009 comes as a surprise.

The Indian racer has been competing in the GP2 Series for the past year, scoring his first win at Hockenheim. He ranked 10th overall in his debut GP2 Main Series season, while also finishing as the 15th best driver in the inaugural GP2 Asia championship. As for his F1 experience, Chandhok has tested for Red Bull Racing during the 2007/08 off-season testing.

Karthikeyan, on the other hand, is no stranger from Formula 1 action. The Indian driver has been driving for the defunct Jordan team in 2005. He failed to score a single point for Eddie Jordan's outfit that year, after which he signed a deal as test driver for Williams F1 team. Karthikeyan is currently representing his country in the A1 GP World Cup of Motorsport. He scored 2 wins for A1 Team India in the last two years.

Force India has recently confirmed their drivers' lineup for 2009. Veteran Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil will continue as racing drivers for the upcoming season, while Vitantonio Liuzzi was also retained as test driver for 2009.
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