Despite Team Lotus seemingly giving every indication it will retain its existing race driver line-up for the 2012 season, the team’s reserve driver Karun Chandhok is holding out hopes that he can race for the team next year.
The 27-year-old had a rather dreadful maiden race outing for the team at the German Grand Prix, when the outfit rather curiously announced that Jarno Trulli would vacate the cockpit for the Channai-born driver.
In the same breath as the one-off driver swap being announced, Team Lotus also made noises that it was looking to re-sign Trulli for the 2012 season, which on the basis of his form looks to be an equally curious decision.
Certainly, Chandhok’s outing was of little benefit to the team other than assessing his suitability for a later drive at New Delhi, but he was so race-rusty that it raised questions than it answered.
Granted, Chandhok gained much respect up and down the paddock – before he was inexplicably dumped mid-season – for driving within his limits last year with Hispania Racing, but he spent much of his time during the German Grand Prix going over said limits. Footage of his green car skating sideways through a gravel trap became a rather common occurrence during the weekend, and it was a decidedly unimpressive appearance to say the least.
Nonetheless, Chandhok will have several more Friday practice outings over the remainder of the season, with a view – he believes – of securing a full-time race seat next year.
“For 2012, I am looking at a potential full time race seat,” he told the Hindustan Times.
With his compatriot Narain Karthikeyan set to return to the HRT cockpit when the F1 circus heads to India for the inaugural Indian Grand Prix, Chandhok has admitted his uncertainty that he will join his fellow countryman on the grid in October.
But he wants his on-track performance – rather than rumours of sponsorship backing – to do the talking first.
“That’s a big internal assessment for the team. I also want to be on the grid after earning the respect of the team engineers and not just because I am Indian,” he added.
“There’s no deal [to race at New Delhi],” he continued. “It’s just another wrong perception like the belief that I paid to get into Lotus.”
[Image via LAT]