In the murky world of Formula 1, there are never any clear-cut explanations. But the one constant that stays integral to the sport is that money makes the man.
Karun Chandhok has done better than his teammate Bruno Senna by bringing the car home - he has seven finishes to Senna’s three in the nine races they both figured in together - but still his team Hispania chose to have the Indian sit out to accommodate Sakon Yamamoto. While Chandhok has gone on record to stress that this has nothing to do with the amount of sponsorship he brings to the team that is obviously not entirely true.
The grapevine suggests Yamamoto has promised to the tune of 4.6 million euro for the rest of the season. Jaypee Group has looked to support Chandhok, however, negotiations have not been finalised and all the money is yet to flow. With limited interest from the Indian corporate sector, it is unlikely that Chandhok will be able to raise the kind of funds that would guarantee him a spot in every race. There’s also talk that Chandhok and Senna may figure in two races alternately. The team, though, has been reported as saying that Senna will drive for the rest of the season. The Brazilian is said to have a watertight contract.
It’s obvious that the Indian has been unable to meet his monetary commitment to the team. At the beginning of the season, Chandhok’s supporters were convinced that he would be able to tap Indian businesses for support but that has proved to be a pipe dream. Unfortunately for the 26-year-old, there is also no sign of the kind of publicity that Narain Karthikeyan’s entry into F1 generated. While Karthikeyan had the novelty of being the first Indian on the grid, his lack of success in a pathetic car certainly did nothing to whet the appetite of corporates back home. He, however, had solid sponsors in Tata and Bharat Petroleum who saw him through the season.
Chandhok does not have the pioneer advantage and for the Indian media another of our drivers repeatedly figuring at the back of the grid is no longer news. Things have been further queered for him with Force India part-owner Vijay Mallya consistently saying that there is no Indian good enough to drive in F1. As to whether Mallya as chairman of the national motorsport federation should be voicing his negative comments is debatable but they would have registered with his fellow businessmen.
With the Indian GP slated for next year, it is in the interest of F1 to have an Indian on the grid. As such, Chandhok just has to hang tough and eventually he will be back in a car. For that matter, even Karthikeyan will be gunning for a seat next year. Again, he will be backed by solid sponsors, who have not abandoned him for Chandhok.