Good news for Karun Chandhok, who has finally been announced as Team Lotus’ reserve driver for the 2011 season, after months of rumours suggesting this would be the case. The Indian’s role will kick off this weekend, when he will drive the Lotus T128 for the first time in the opening free practice session on Friday.
The announcement has resulted in the team’s originally-scheduled Friday driver, Davide Valsecchi, being demoted – along with Luiz Razia – to the position of the team’s “test driver”.
“[Chandhok] will be taking part in a number of Friday practice sessions for Team Lotus including FP1 in Melbourne,” a team statement reads.
The popular driver competed the first half of the 2010 championship season with Hispania Racing before being dropped due to sponsorship issues.
“I’ve been talking to the team for quite a while about a role with them and I’m delighted we’re now able to confirm that I will be driving for Team Lotus in 2011,” a relieved Chandhok said.
“The details of exactly which sessions I will be in the car for are being worked out now and after having spent some time with them at the recent pre-season tests I can see exactly how passionate everyone in Team Lotus is about taking this team back to the top of the F1 grid.
“These are very exciting times for Team Lotus and it’s a real honour to be able to play a part in helping shape this team’s future. I want to thank Tony, Din, Nasa, Riad and Mike for having the faith in me to give me a chance to help the team develop and I’ll do my best to repay that faith wherever I can.”
Team Principal Tony Fernandes was equally pleased with his latest signing, and added: “This is another great day for Team Lotus. Karun’s appointment to our team gives us not only his immense driving talent and F1 experience, both of which will help us develop the car even further, but also brings one of the warmest, most professional personalities I have the pleasure of knowing into the Team Lotus family.
“I do not think it is going too far to say that Karun represents the future of motor racing – he is living proof that geography is no boundary to talent and ambition and that you will succeed if you work hard and keep dreaming.
“He is fiercely proud of his Indian heritage but he has a truly global outlook and I am honoured that Team Lotus is now giving one of India’s brightest stars the chance to continue to develop his talent. Everyone in the team is excited about working with Karun, and I cannot wait to see him representing the Indian nation in our car.”
Would anyone care to place a wager on Karun making a race start at the inaugural Indian Grand Prix in October?
To read our exclusive interview with Karun – conducted shortly after his signing to HRT last year – click here.