While claiming that it wouldn’t have been “the right time” to consider signing Narain Karthikeyan (pictured) to his own Force India F1 squad, team boss Vijay Mallya has Narain Karthikeyan's return to F1 means India will be fully represented in F1, says Force India boss Vijay Mallya said he is nonetheless “delighted” that there will be an Indian driver on the grid in 2011, in the form of former Jordan driver Narain Karthikeyan.

Karthikeyan is returning to the Colin Kolles fold by signing with Hispania Racing for this season, and the move carries significant commercial weight with the Indian Grand Prix making its inaugural appearance on the F1 calendar in October.

This fact is certainly not lost on Mallya, who said: “India should be proud that it will be fully represented in its inaugural grand prix by an Indian team and now an Indian driver.”

Karthikeyan and his compatriot, Karun Chandhok, have both been linked with a drive at Force India in recent months, but the team has continued so far to exclusively field European drivers in its short history.

Vijay Mallya won't yet reveal who is driving for Force India in 2011 “We have spoken to Narain over a period of time about returning [to F1],” Mallya said, “and it just wasn’t the right time for us in this stage of our development.

“[However] I’m delighted that Narain is able to make his F1 comeback with HRT and I wish him every success in the coming year,” he added.

Force India remains the only team not to have confirmed either of its race drivers for the 2011 season, although it is widely believed that the team will replace Vitantonio Liuzzi with its test driver, Paul di Resta, for the upcoming season.

“We’re currently closing our driver lineup and I’m really excited about what’s to come,” Mallya hinted.

[Original images via LAT]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.