Karun Chandhok edged closer to a deal with the Campos F1 team on Thursday, even as Narain Karthikeyan, it is reliably learnt, appears to be backing off.
At the time of going to print, despite speculation on the net, no deal had been signed. The final hurdle is the money. Chandhok has to cough up to the tune of Rs 45 crore to get a chance to sit on the 2010 F1 grid. The Campos team is waiting for a bank guarantee to put pen to paper.
If the promised money comes through, then the deal could be announced as soon as Friday. The entry of engine supplier Cosworth into the Indian market has seen Chandhok's chances bolstered. Then, his good relationship with chassis maker Dallara is also aiding his cause.
Apart from the backing of sponsors JK Tyres and Punj Lloyd, Chandhok's father Vicky is learnt to have taken bank loans to get together the total amount required. Unconfirmed reports suggest that even Bruno Senna's spot on the team may not be secure on account of the financial liability.
The 26-year-old Chandhok did not have a very good GP2 season last year but has been doggedly working towards getting into F1. If he does make it, even then it would be unlikely that good results pour in soon given that the Campos team has hardly got its act together as of now. That's the worry that appears to have Karthikeyan look away as he has already driven 19 races in 2005 with Jordan in a car that was just not competitive enough.
Stefan GP, with it's Toyota car, may well be a better option for an Indian to figure.