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Bernie buzz spurs Karun’s hopes

india Updated: Feb 25, 2010 00:12 IST
Sukhwant Basra
Sukhwant Basra
Hindustan Times
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An Indian driver on the 2010 Formula 1 grid is a possibility. And it could be either Karun Chandhok or Narain Karthikeyan.

Chandhok has been in extended talks with new outfits, Campos and Stefan GP, the latter yet to get an entry for this season.

The crucial push for Chandhok seems to be stemming from the office of Bernie Ecclestone, F1 boss, who has made it pretty clear that he wants the driver in F1.

The F1 boss’ interest stems from ensuring the driver is ready for a credible performance by the time the proposed Indian F1 race comes around. The Jaypee Group’s track is coming along at commendable pace in Greater Noida.

Given that the two teams he’s talking to are both fresh entries, Chandhok will be expected to put up anything between six to eight million euros (between Rs 37.6 crore to Rs 50.19 crore) for a seat. Chandhok has the support of JK Tyres and Punj Lloyd group. When India got Narain Karthikeyan as its first F1 driver in 2005, his consortium of sponsors had raised 7 million euros (now Rs 43.9 crore) for his seat.

Narain for Campos?

With the recent appointment of Colin Kolles as the Campos team principal, the possibility of Karthikeyan being in contention has risen considerably. Kolles and Karthikeyan have had a solid working relationship and the Indian was offered a three-race deal to race for Spykar F1 in 2007 when Kolles was running that team.

Earlier, he was the man who ran Jordan when Karthikeyan was driving for that team in F1. Moreover, he has been driving for Kolles in the Le Man series recently.

It may well become a race between two Indian drivers to get a berth in the same outfit. In that particular team, Karthikeyan, on account of his previous F1 experience and rapport with Kolles, may just edge out Chandhok. Of primary importance is the question as to whether Indian corporates have the financial muscle to back their drivers.