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Exclusive: Frustrated Chandhok has high hopes for 2011

NEWS STORY
24/09/2010

Having found himself on the outside at Hispania since Hockenheim, Karun Chandhok is learning the hard way that getting in to Formula One is only half the battle. Staying there being the other half.

The popular Indian enjoyed a solid start to the 2010 season, scoring fourteenth place finishes in Australia and Monaco, which still rank him as the second best 'new team' driver, behind Heikki Kovalainen at Lotus, in the World Championship standings.

However, the season soon turned sour. Dumped by the team in Germany, the Indian has been on the sidelines ever since, seemingly a victim of politics.

When it became evident Sakon Yamamoto would not be able to take part in the Singapore Grand Prix weekend due to illness, many hoped the affable Chandhok would get an opportunity to stake his claim once more.

Hopes were soon dashed however when Christian Klien, who hasn't race in Formula One since Monza 2006, was announced alongside Bruno Senna as HRT's second driver for the weekend. Klien had already been nominated as the Friday driver, though many had hoped the team would opt for Chandhok's more recent race experience.

Speaking exclusively with Pitpass shortly after the announcement Karun said: "Coming here I knew I wasn't driving, so to me it makes no damn difference who's in the car! As long as it's not me it makes no difference to me, so I am good. I've got no reaction... You could put Christian, you could put Sakon, you could put whoever, it makes no difference to me."

Shown during first practice deep inside the HRT garage working with engineers, the 26-year-old demonstrated admirable maturity and composure in the face of clearly frustrating circumstances.

"It's not brilliant, it's not ideal," he admitted. "As I've said all along; it's a team decision. I need to respect what choices they need to make. At the end of the day they make the decisions based on various circumstances and various situations on and off the track."

Having been overlooked for the drive this weekend many now expect the Indian to move away from the team for 2011. "I'm talking to a variety of teams. We looking at what the options are, including with HRT of course, but we're looking at what the best options are for me to be in F1 next year," he revealed.

"I think I did a good job until Silverstone. I was very competitive against both my teammates [Bruno Senna and Sakon Yamamoto]. I think I increased in credibility as a driver whose had some good races and no real mistakes this season - apart from Bahrain, which wasn't really my fault - so I think I've earned the right to be in F1."

He's not alone in his appraisal, finding backing from Bernie Ecclestone, who earlier in the week admitted he'd like to see Karun in a better team next season. When asked about the support he's received from the F1 ringmaster Chandhok said: "He made some very complimentary comments this week in the press which was nice to read."

So seemingly stuck on the sidelines for 2010, Karun's efforts are now focussed on securing his place in Formula One for next season. His ambitions are clear; he doesn't want to simply stay in the category, he wants to progress, though admits he's unsure just what 'progression' will mean.

"We'll just wait and see," he said. "Ultimately my aim is to be in a team next year where I'm in position to be in the midfield, that's where I'd like to be. I'm realistically realistic enough to know there isn't a seat available at a top team, but I think if there's an option to be with a team that allows me to race in the midfield and pick up points on occasion, and start qualifying regularly in Q2, or on occasion Q3, I think that's really a place for me to target to be in 2011."

"I've always said, from day 1, as long as there's a car with my name on it I'm ready 365 days, 24/7 to get in and drive it. My job is to drive race cars, that's what I love doing. What happens with the running of the team or managing of the team is nothing to do with me."

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