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Indian drivers critical of Mallya's comments

NEWS STORY
13/07/2011

Karun Chandok and Narain Karthikeyan have reacted to comments made earlier in the week by Vijay Mallya.

Ahead of his country's maiden Grand Prix, the Force India boss said that while India waits on home grown talent to line up on the grid, the nation should throw its support behind its own team, his.

However, Chandhok and Karthikeyan are left dismayed by his comments, frustrated that Mallya chooses to ignore the existing talent already out there, including themselves.

"I think it's a bit sad that in one breath the chairman of our Indian ASN (national sporting authority) is talking about how much he has done for Indian drivers and then in the next breath he is criticising India's only two Formula One drivers," Chandhok told Reuters. "If you are going to criticise people, at least do it with some facts. Having never tested either Narain or myself in one of his cars, he doesn't have the facts."

He then took aim at Mallya's PR led search for 'talent', the so-called 'One from a Billion'.

"I understand the need to find the next Indian star, and I use the word next not first, and the need to create more Indian F1 drivers," said Chandhok. "But you are not going to find the next Indian star by running events in single-engined four-stroke rental karts on 400 metre tracks made out of concrete."

Indeed, Chandhok's father Vicky, who is president of the Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India, is the driving force behind the JK Tyre Rotax Challenge.

"The Rotax karts are the same as used elsewhere in the world," he said, "you send drivers to the world final and that's where you are going to find the next generation of drivers."

Karthikeyan, recently dropped by Hispania in favour of Daniel Ricciardo, was equally scathing of Mallya's comments. "Against all the odds, both of us have made it to Formula one," he told Reuters. "It doesn't matter who I drive for in the Indian Grand Prix. It's just a symbolic and historic moment and one that can show aspiring young drivers what they can do with hard work and effort. The Tata Group is very supportive of what I do and that's all that matters."

The last word went to Chandhok, who is rumoured to be on the grid with Lotus for the Indian event. "I am very happy to be in a team where the shareholders and the CEO are 100 percent supportive, in a team where I feel 100 percent wanted and I feel a long term potential to build a truly Asian team and I am very happy where I am," he said.

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