Michael Schumacer welcomed cricket ace Sachin Tendulkar with open arms in the Formula One paddock at last weekend's Indian Grand Prix. The seven-time F1 world champion's younger brother Ralf proved to be a little less convivial.
The 36-year-old German, who retired from F1 in 2007 and has since been competing in German touring car series DTM, declined from signing a letter of intent to race in the i1 Super Series, which signed the Master Blaster as brand ambassador in a three-year multi-crore deal in August.
The former Williams GP driver was not the only big name to turn down the series, which is being promoted by Machdar Motorsport, highly-placed sources told HT.
Two-time former F1 world champion Mika Hakkinen also ruled a return to competitive racing, deciding against signing on the dotted line. Fellow Finn Heikki Kovalainen, who drives for Team Lotus, also wasn't impressed with the offer and shied away.
Narain vs Karun
Team Lotus' decision not to give Karun Chandhok a race seat at the Indian GP may have deprived fans the chance of watching India's two biggest motorsport names slug it out. However, Chandhok and HRT driver Narain Karthikeyan could race against each other in the i1 Super Series.
Chandhok and Karthikeyan have both signed the letter of intent. Some of the other big names who've signed on are former Force India driver Giancarlo Fisicella, HRT driver Vitantonio Liuzzi, and Team Lotus' Italian veteran Jarno Trulli.
Confirming the news, Karthikeyan said, "I've have signed an initial letter of intent. This doesn't necessarily mean I'll race, as an official contract has not been signed."
According to the letter of intent the series will be spread across five circuits in Asia (New Delhi, Abu Dhabi, Kuala Lumpur, Doha and Bahrain), with the international drivers being offered $35,000 per race (Rs 17.21 lakhs).
The series, which will have eight Indian city-based franchises and drivers competing in Radical SR3 chassis cars, has roped in Ten Sports as official broadcaster.