Chandhok to drive for Lotus in practice

2011 F1 drivers and teams

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Karun Chandhok, Lotus, Melbourne, 2011

Karun Chandhok has been confirmed as Lotus’s reserve driver.

He will drive for them in the first practice session at Melbourne and other sessions during the year.

Chandhok is the fourth driver to take up a non-racing role at the team, joining reserve driver Luiz Razia and test drivers Davide Valsecchi and Ricardo Teixeira.

Chandhok, who drove for HRT in the first half of last year, said: “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.

“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.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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43 comments on “Chandhok to drive for Lotus in practice”

  1. This is a great move for Chandhok. Its definitely a step up from HRT, although it isn’t a race seat yet. Hope we see more of him in the near future.

    1. Slowly dis-appear in F1?… sooner or later.. From a race seat to reserve driver , reserve driver # 3 lol, then to on-call reserve driver and finally spectator or an F1 fan like us. :)

      1. Narain Karthikeyan has proved that this theory does not always hold true!

        1. The theory applied to no/less cash. It’s for plain race driver selling for his talent. but for a pay driver like Narain for now… thats a different story. Even you, If you have billions on your back the team like HRT will teach you how to drive. :)

      2. Karun IS a hardcore F1 fan. Seriously.

    2. UKfanatic (@)
      22nd March 2011, 11:52

      he surprised me he was more competitive than Senna he showed that he worth more than SENNA anyway i just hope he will run at the indian gp

  2. Looks like a battle between Team Lotus and Lotus Renault to decide who can secure the most non-racing drivers.

    1. Maybe they expect they are going to have the drivers fight it out on track sometime this year. Gloves off, hit the tarmac and see hwo wins it.
      So far the score is 3 : 5 in test/3rd/friday drivers with Renault leading.

      1. Ha, ha, I thought the same. Isn’t it a little weird having four “reserve” drivers in the team? Is it a hunt for sponsors, long-term prospects, money or what?

        1. I’m thinking that it may be speculation? If you have a driver on your books and they turn out to be handy, there may be money going back to the team when another team wants to buy them out?

    2. The more restricted tests are the more test drivers are hired.

  3. Great news, I really hope he makes the most of these oppotunities.

    1. Indeed. I really miss him. Hopefully when Adrian Sutil goes to another team, Force India will pick this man. :)

  4. At long last confirmed.
    Seems he got the call to fly to Australia last minute. Great to have him there, looking forward to hearing from him during the weekend.

  5. That’s if they’re still called Lotus! But so pleased for Chandhok, he was better than his GP2 results would have suggested so it would be good to see his true potential, if he stays in F1 long enough he could become a good seasoned veteran (sadly I don’t see anything more of him)

  6. At last chandhok gets the chance to prove whether he really can cut the mustard in a proper f1 car and not the shopping trolley he drove last season. A great personality and excellent marketing for the team ahead of the Indian gp.

  7. Stupid move by Lotus IMO

    I do not see the benifit of having a reserve driver taking practice time off the race driver, unless you are going to do the HRT revolving driver system that occurred last year (which was a joke by the end).

    Lotus wouold be much better placed giving their race drivers as much track time as possible, especially if they are going to push midtable. Additional practice on qualifying laps (getting the DRS timings right) would be more benificial.

    I was hopeful that Lotus might even manage a point or two this year.

    I can only presume Chandooks dad is paying plenty of money for him to get a few drives during the year.

    1. Agreed, isn’t Valsechi supposed to be doing practices as well? Surely the time would be better placed with Kovalainen and Trulli. It’s different to, say, Force India, who were clearly training up di Resta in practices, and Virgin with d’Ambrosio. As much as I like Chandhok, it does seem a bit needless…

    2. First practice is useless, race-drivers learn virtually nothing from the session, it is almost a waste of their time, so using that session for reserve drivers makes complete sense.

      FP1 is about cleaning a dirty track, shaking down the cars, checking computer predictions of aero and gearing, and monitoring tyre degradation on controlled runs. It is donkey work, the race drivers only start properly working for their money FP2 and FP3.

      Using that time to instead let test-drivers show they know their way around a track, keep their name in the frame, and a find a few extra quid for smaller teams, works out well for everyone involved.

      1. Not to mention FP1 will probably involve running with Pirelli’s experimental compounds. So there really is very little that a race driver loses by not running in FP1.

        1. Agree here with Kaiser and Ben M, Think maybe was Anthony Davidson talked about this on free practice one time how its so important for the driver to get as much track time as possible before race. Surely it is more so now with the new tyres, kers & DRS. Fair enough if it was last year when didn’t have any chance for points but this year when car is a lot better and could be the smallest things end up being the difference in a point or two. See what Feyman and Burnout are saying but I can’t imagine Trulli or Kovalein thinking that way.

  8. Chandhok should be looking to get on the BBC team

    1. …and go the same way as Davidson? Ant had a lot more to give, but then, he was more talented than Karun if you ask me. Chandhok’s contribution to the BBC when he was on it was great though. But it does seem to be a race career kill…

      1. Davidson still races in the premier sportscar championship though?

        I think Trulli will probably retire at the end of this year, I guess Karun might be looking at the long game.

  9. Pretty much guaranteed he’ll get a run during first practice at the Indian GP…

    1. we may see him racing at Indian GP

      1. I think if we did it would more than likely be in Trulli’s place – and I think he would have something to say about that.

      2. When a regular driver have a stomach bug by eating kari..

        1. Karin will take Trulli out to dinner at his favorite restaurant for some authentic Indian food Friday night, to sideline him for Friday qualifying…

          1. Wow, I must’ve been asleep when I wrote that. Misspelling his name I can attribute to annoying autocorrect, but Friday qualifying? Obviously that would be Saturday.

      3. I didn’t think of that (the race seat, not the stomach bug :))…I don’t imagine that Heikki or Jarno would be too keen to give up their seats though.

        1. I like US_Peter’s scenario. :P

  10. I don’t like what Lotus has been doing during the winter break. Kovalainen and Trulli spent a lot of time waiting in the garage instead of driving as Lotus had a lot of reliability issues. The new Lotus car covered significantly less laps than its likely competitors in 2011 (Toro Rosso, Sauber). Thus every additional km was important for the race drivers. But Lotus chose to waste some more track time by giving the car to Razzia, Valsecchi and Teixeira. And they put Arabadzhiev and Gonzalez in the car in the rookie tests (Abu Dhabi, November). I don’t believe that all of this is really done in order to find and evaluate potential future drivers and young talents. It looks like this has to do with money. Chandhok’s deal obviously means that Lotus are going to stay on the same path as I don’t think Chandhok is a much more talented driver than, let’s say, Yamamoto. If Lotus are in a desperate need for money then okay, so be it but then I don’t see them as a serious midfield team that could potentially threaten the likes of Sauber and Williams this season.

    1. there is some reason why the test called rookie test…to the rookie driver!!! at least two out of four reserve driver for Lotus is quite good (valsecchi and chandhok)

      1. typo error: there is some reason why the test called rookie test…to “test” rookie driver!!!

  11. He’s going to be driving in India. That’s a no-brainer. Hell, if I were Tony Fernandes, I’d drop Jarno Trulli for a race for the sake of giving Chandhok a race in front of his home crowd. Watch them play that up with the whole “We’re Team Lotus!” angle for maxiumum PR value.

    1. I’m kind of hoping that’s what happens. It would be great if the only two Indian F1 drivers so far were both on the grid for the inaugural Indian GP.

      1. Chandhok obviously has a big fan-base in India. I am not so sure about Karthikeyan in an HRT… There’d certainly be a bigger turn out if Chandhok was driving a Lotus. It’d be even bigger in 2012 if he’s driving a Force India.

  12. Aw well I think we’re all glad about this. We’ll have to see what happens to Jarno Trulli, although they’ll be other competition waiting in the wings.

  13. Ah it’s good to know he will be knocking about the grid, thrilled for him :)

    Sounds to me like they’re looking at him with a view to perhaps replacing Trulli one day? Especially given that he’s got some track time confirmed.

  14. Wonder if this has anything to do with Force India suing Team Lotus over the car design.
    Even if it is so, it doesnt matter, coz he was being considered for the role and is indeed a good driver, though time will say if he is a “better” driver..

  15. 2011 Indian GP,don’t be surprise if he seats for both Saturday & Sunday as well.

  16. i think chandhok is going to be one of the reserve drivers, like hulkenburg, who will be looking to make an impression. if all goes well and karun’s times are good i wouldn’t bet against him taking trulli’s race seat for 2012.

    hulkenburg will find it a little more difficult to break into force india, whether that be via di resta or sutil getting snapped up by a bigger team I don’t know.

    definitely not a step back, lotus is a good team to be involved with.

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