Chandhok is the most likely driver to succeed Narain Karthikeyan as India’s next F1 driver. But is he ready for a step up to the top level?
Chandhok is in this third season of GP2 and is racing for the Ocean Technology team run by Karthikeyan’s former Jordan team mate Tiago Monteiro.
It’s been a year of mixed results for him so far. There have been points finishes and a podium at Silverstone. Chandhok should have won the sprint race at Monte-Carlo, but his car broke down while he was leading.
But other retirements have been self-inflicted and on a number of occasions Chandhok simply hasn’t figured at the front of the field, particularly in the Istanbul and Hungaroring rounds.
Last year, driving for iSport, he struggled to match team mate Bruno Senna – the Brazilian took second in the drivers’ championship with 64 points, Chandhok was tenth with 31 with a single win in the reverse-grid race at the Hockenheimring. This was his second GP2 victory, the first coming at Istanbul the year before.
The native of Madras might not get into F1 on the strength of his CV alone, but with the most powerful man in F1 backing his cause you have to fancy his chances.
Chandhok’s father Vicky is the former president of the former president of the Federation of Motor Sports in India and a friend of Bernie Ecclestone’s.
With Force India scoring a breakthrough result at Spa, an Indian Grand Prix on the calendar in 2011 (politics permitting) and an Indian investment firm looking at putting money into the former BMW team, F1 is beginning to take a foothold in the world’s second most populous nation. It’s no surprise Ecclestone wants to help it along by getting another Indian driver in F1.
Is Chandhok the man for the job? Are there other Indian drivers in the junior formulae who look like better prospects? Have your say in the comments.