Chandhok returns to F1 in Trulli’s place in Germany

2011 F1 season

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Karun Chandhok, Lotus, Valencia, 2011

Karun Chandhok will race in place of Jarno Trulli at this weekend’s German Grand Prix, Lotus have confirmed.

Chandhok has already made four appearances for the team this year in first practice sessions.

He said: “Firstly I want to thank Tony Fernandes, Kamarudin Meranun and SM Nasarudin for giving me the chance to race this weekend for Team Lotus.

“Ever since I first joined the team I have been looking forward to this opportunity and I am determined to do my best to repay their faith in me and help the team progress, this season and for many years to come. I am approaching the weekend in a very realistic frame of mind.

“I will be doing my best to push and to make sure I learn as much as possible all weekend, take each session as it comes and work as closely as I can with the engineers and the whole team to do the best job I can.

“Whatever happens, I am very excited about lining up on the grid on Sunday and I know there will be millions of Indian fans, and Team Lotus fans around the world, who will be behind me and the whole team, so I will do the best I can to give them something to cheer for.”

It marks a return to racing for Chandhok who last competed in the British Grand Prix for HRT in 2010.

Lotus team principal Tony Fernandes indicated his continued faith in Trulli, and said the team were looking into extending his contract:

“[Trulli] has been extremely accommodating in stepping to the side for this race and our commitment to him is unwavering.

“I am delighted to confirm that we are in the process of negotiating an extension to his contract with us and we are all looking forward to unveiling the details of that very soon. He is a key member of our team and I hope that we can give him a car as soon as possible that allows him to utilise his considerable talent to the full.”

Fernandes said of Chandhok: “Ever since I first met Karun I have been impressed with his whole demeanour – he is talented, passionate, committed and he brings great energy to the whole team so I am delighted that we are giving him the chance to add even more value to us in the cockpit over a whole race weekend.

“One of the key goals of Team Lotus is to provide a stepladder to the top of world motorsport for talent from all over the world and we have been true to that philosophy since the first days of the team. For Formula 1 to continue to develop globally we need to keep creating new opportunities for talent from around the world to reach the top and Team Lotus will continue to do its best to support that.

“As a young Asian driver Karun faces even more obstacles to achieving his goals than his counterparts from the established motorsport homelands in the West, both from inside and outside F1, and I am very proud to be able to give him this chance on merit.”

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Image © Team Lotus

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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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89 comments on “Chandhok returns to F1 in Trulli’s place in Germany”

  1. Poor trulli but he needs to retire

    1. I guess they “fixed” the power steering issues. :)

      1. At least for Germany ;-)

        Personally I felt Trulli should have retired years ago… He was a great single lap specialist which served him well in qualifying but then he would race for maybe half a dozen laps before becoming a mobile chicane as he formed the Trulli train.

        I honestly couldn’t understand why any team would want a driver that every other team would then factor his qualifying position into racing strategy because they knew that in front of him would be a clear bit of track and behind him would be half a dozen faster cars desperately trying to get past him.

        Chandhock never really got a fair crack of the whip at HRT simply because he didn’t bring in the money/sponsorship/attention that his team mate did… It will be great to see him given another shot.

        1. In his defense, by qualifying so well it was inevitable that the faster cars would get stuck behind.

          In his defense, not so long ago he was making Glock look like an amateur, and Glock is rated well by quite a few people, judging by the comments on his driver’s ranking position.

      2. Yup that was the easiest solution!

      3. :lol: @Valentino!

    2. So true…

  2. Good to see him back. I am in the hope that he will get to race at Indian Grandprix in place of trulli. But it happened much earlier & almost sure to race in indian grandprix also. Hope he can make best use of these opportunities to show his talent & get lotus drive for next year..

    1. I think Fernandes has already confirmed that Chandhok will race at the Indian GP

    2. Big Chandhok fan so chuffed with this news. He’ll be missed in the BBC commentary though!

    3. I hope so too!

    4. Why is everyone glad to see this driving chicane back? :S Even though he looked stupid in the Lotus, I’d much rather see a GP-winner driving than someone who’s crashing almost every lap.

  3. Then why did they even put up with Trullis complaints for so long and then set him aside just as they told the world they had a solution for the powersteering?! Seems unreasonable and sort of unfair but I guess either someone pays better or they want to give him some running before the race in India so he’ll look good there.

    1. It seems they are having Trulli back in the car when the power steering is updated for next race!

      Actually a ballsy move for Trulli, if he says it makes no sense driving without it, why not let Karun have a go! It will only work out if he improves a lot come Hungaroring though.

      1. Nonetheless, it is brave of Jarno to take the gamble… …even if I think he’s just signed his ticket out of the Indian Grand Prix even if he is completely right and Heikki’s the only person in the world who can drive a power-steering-deficient Lotus reasonably well.

  4. Why? Why?
    I thought the power-steering issues were going to be resolved for this or the following race, so why now? And why do they want to extend his contract if they substitute him?

    1. I guess that is exactly why. Better for him to sit out a race where he would only be further annoyed at not having it, and be back for Hungary, than the other way around!

      If Trulli suprises come Hungaroring it will prove to have been a pretty good gamble, I thing.

      1. And too, the fact that Trulli has been frustrated by working with the car, maybe a time-out helps with that too.

        I think doing it this way is a smart move by Fernandes, and a bold and smart move by Trulli.

        If Chandok does great and Trulli doesn’t feel and show much better in the car, they both will feel it might be better not to continue in this way, giving Chandok a good way in.

        If Trulli shines again, well, it changes things, and the team profits too, having had an opportunity to see how Chandok compares in a race.

        They all manage to not look petty, money-greedy, and seem to do what’s best for the team. Good effort.

      2. Chandhok will have those issues as well if they haven’t been fixed. maybe they want to see if he can handle them better?

    2. Indeed. And is this just a one race deal? Or maybe they’re putting Chandhok in the car to see if the complains about the power steering… if he doesn’t, then he keeps the seat for the rest of the year :P

      1. Not clear yet but I certainly wouldn’t bet against Chandhok being in the car in India now.

        1. If he doesn’t mess up giganticly, I think its a sure bet he will be driving there now, if not earlier (Singapore, Japan).

        2. I think he’ll replace Kovalainen in India.

          1. Considering Kovi’s performance?

            It would be like Ferrari giving Jules a shot and replacing Alonso.

          2. @Mike – maybe they have replaced Trulli not based on his performances, and to be fair on their drivers it will be Heikki’s turn to “gift” a drive in the car to Karun, although I doubt it.

          3. That was my guess when I read this – that it’s an effort to make things even between the two principal drivers.

            Nothing against Trulli really but I’ll be very pleased to see Karun on the grid again – surely one of the most likeable drivers in a while.

          4. The Last Pope
            21st July 2011, 19:50

            I agree. Dispite performaces Trulli and Kovalainen have equal status in the team. As Trulli isn’t being dropped for bad performace one would expect that for India it will be Kovalainen’s turn to sit on the bench so the equality can remain.

          5. @Mike: Kovalainen and Trulli are evenly-matched in the races. Kovalainen has had better luck.

          6. Eh, I suspect you guys are probably right.

        3. Two Indian drivers?

      2. +1 Lol :D

    3. Indeed the power steerin issues have been resolved… becuase i doubt chandok is going to complain about them! Trulli needed to pipe down a long time ago

  5. I thought that. He has complained about power steering all season, made a bad impression on the team, and they want to substitute him, then renew his contract. No sense at all.

    1. +1 Ell ! Weird it is !

  6. The plot thickens.

    I don’t expect Karun to set the world on fire, but if he does fine where Trulli has not, they may find their roles within the team reversed. Note that they didn’t say anything about Trulli’s contract being about a race seat.

    I think this a test by Lotus to see whether they have to spend so much time on one issue for just one of their drivers, when another driver is waiting in the wings.

    1. I still think Trulli will be back in Hungary and then have Karun in the car for India again.
      But it might depend on how much Trulli will be satisfied with the updated power steering thing for next year.

    2. Note that they didn’t say anything about Trulli’s contract being about a race seat.

      Agree. Thats the first thing that I noticed as well. Maybe they are looking at Trulli in a car developer role or maybe as a test driver in the future. They wouldn’t be too keen to give him a race seat after the kind of season he has had thus far.

    3. They didn’t even say whether Jarno’s contract is in F1. Remember Lotus has a Le Mans team…

      1. Isn’t that Group Lotus, though?

  7. Off the top of my head I make this the third time Trulli has lost or changed his seat mid-season – any advances on that? I’m counting Minardi, Renault and now Lotus.

    1. From memory did he not come into the season half way through with Prost as well?

      1. ah it was the same year as being kicked from Minardi, my mistake

        1. What???kicked from Minardi?
          Taken from Prost

    2. You might count 1997 twice, because Trulli left Minardi mid-season to drive for Prost, then lost his Prost seat for the last couple of races of the year when Panis returned. Then there would be 2004 with Renault and now 2011 with Lotus, as you say.

      1. Kicked from Minardi.. Toro Rosso win the 2008 Italian GP, Sebastien Vettel soon World Champion

        Kicked from Renault.. Alonso becomes a double world champion.

        Kicked from Lotus.. Karun Chandhok world champion please?

  8. Good. I’m fed up with trulli moaning about the lotus. Being beat by kov hasn’t been great either.

  9. Good for Karun. He’s a really likable guy. He’s not really had a chance to show the world what he’s like yet, so we get to measure him against Heikki this weekend. Good luck to him.

  10. Does anybody else find it strange that Trulli has been replaced without explanation?

    And this is from a team that has gone out of their way to explain things in the past – like exactly why they are Team Lotus.

    1. Because there’s no money in it, nor much of an opportunity for Moany Fernandes to remind us of why he is the greatest human being that ever lived.

      1. When has Fernandes ever acted like that?

    2. Well he did give the standard PR “reason” which was to give Chandok a shot.

      However… When has any team explained in detail why it swaps drivers?

  11. they obviously need some indian cash to keep going

    1. I am another believer of that theory because that’s how Fernandes sounds like in his comments.
      I hope Karun does not mess it up.

  12. So, with Trulli missing out on Germany, that means there is just one Italian on the grid – Tonio Liuzzi. And I’ve heard talk that Hispania’s new owners, Thesan Capital was to replace him with a Spanish driver; Javier Villa was mentioned, though I don’t think the rumour has much credibility.

    When was the last time this ever happened? By my rough estimation, the last time we had a race without an Italian (not including DNQs and DNPQs) was the 1973 Swedish Grand Prix.

    1. Subaru_600BHP
      21st July 2011, 11:57

      no HIspania would be crazy to replace a driver of Liuzzi’s quality, they are lucky to have his experience, due to the drivers market being so tough, he could really do alot for Hispania.

      1. could

        Is. It’s due to Liuzzi that they are ahead of Virgin.

  13. Haha, this is exactly the move that I predicted in the beginning of the season when answering these questions (on F1F):

    3. Which driver will be replaced first?
    4. Who will he be replaced by?

    Except that this is not the first replacement we have seen.

    However, I am not sure that this is a good idea. Changing the drivers in the middle of a season is not something that characterizes a serious F1 team. Yes Trulli has had a weak season so far and he probably should think about retiring from F1. But I will be very surprised if Chandhok is able to deliver better results than Trulli did. And Fernandes’ comments don’t convince me.

    1. Based on what we’ve seen from him this season, the only person Tony Fernandes tries to convince with his comments is Tony Fernandes.

      1. Fernandes comments are no different from that any other EUROPEAN team principal would make.

  14. Fantastic news!

  15. I’m happy for Chandhok. He is one of the nicest drivers in F1. I really enjoy the 5Live commentary when he is in the booth, he is like an encyclopedia and a hardcore F1 fan. He is really enthusiastic about the sport and you can tell he loves it.

    I hope he does well and gets back into F1 full time.

  16. “As a young Asian driver Karun faces even more obstacles to achieving his goals than his counterparts from the established motorsport homelands in the West, both from inside and outside F1, and I am very proud to be able to give him this chance on merit.”

    Am I the only one who sees a dig at Vijay Mallya in there?

    1. Indeed, and it’s particularly interesting to re-read Chandhok’s response to it in light of this move. When he said it, did Chandhok already know he was going to get the gig in Germany?

      For those who haven’t seen, here’s Mallya’s original remarks from the round-up:

      And Chandhok’s response:

      1. It’s funny because an Italian driver won a Grand Prix before Ferrari did – Nino Farina won the first Grand Prix – so it’s a bit rich of him to say that an Indian team comes before an Indian driver.

        1. Well, Farina was driving an Alfa Romeo, so it was a win for Italy all round!

          1. True, but I was having a dig at Mallya because he named Ferrari specifically as the “Italian” team.

            Have to say, I agree with Chandhok on this one – Mallya’s comments about how important he and his team are have not endeared him to me.

          2. Ah, but back then Ferrari wasn’t *the* Italian team but one of several, so Vijay’s point remains valid.

  17. So I guess no more power-steering problems. Good for Chandhok and good for Lotus.

  18. Worst thing for Fernandez would be for Chandhok to get into the car in India and embarrass all concerned like he has already at times in his few practice laps

  19. Adrian Morse
    21st July 2011, 12:07

    Given Karun’s blistering pace on Friday mornings, this move comes as no surprise.

    Seriously though, I do not get all the positive reactions from my fellow F1Fanatics. My first reactions to the news were shock and disgust, perhaps even more so with Trulli piping the “I am happy to support Karun” tune. If he really is happy to hand his car over, then what the hell is he still doing in F1.

    As for Team Lotus, putting a pay driver in your car for FP1 is one thing, but for a whole weekend? And aren’t there better pay drivers out there? Sure, Karun is a nice guy and a knowledgable F1 fan, but if that is the criterion, then Tony Fernandes might just as well take a look around the F1Fanatic site and see if there are any particularly funny and lucid F1Fanatics around.

    1. <blockquote.Given Karun’s blistering pace on Friday mornings, this move comes as no surprise.
      Yes, he found the wall very quickly in Melbourne …

      1. apart from the aussie wall incident, he’s mostly just had bad luck. A mechanical failure in.. valencia, I think? and a useless wet session in silverstone.

  20. I think I look at it more like this:

    Karun’s going to be driving in India. It makes no sense (from a business POV) to NOT put him in there for that. Whether we agree with that on a talent perspective is a complete side-issue in this day and age of F1.

    Karun’s had little to no time in that car (for reasons he can only blame on himself in some cases, admittedly), so he needs some true preparation for that race. Sure, it’d be good to just field an Indian at the Indian GP. But why not try and add a bit of competitiveness to that?

    It’s the first Indian GP, it’s a new track. We may have incidents/some unknown quantities. Who knows, some race prep for Karun could be the difference between loitering in the midfield or perhaps scoring an extremely valuable point…

  21. I am delighted to confirm that we are in the process of negotiating an extension to his contract with us and we are all looking forward to unveiling the details of that very soon.

    Details: Take what we offer you or go race trucks… :P

  22. Chandhok cannot afford to finish behind any of the Virgins or HRTs on Sunday. Chances like this after being shoved aside by a team like HRT are few and far to come by. I am extremely glad and hope he does well.

  23. Although Trulli hasn’t performed that well this season the news is still a surprise, especially as Lotus say they are still negotiating a contract extension with Trulli.

  24. Chandok is rubbish! He’s gonna wreck his car in free practice again!

    1. Well then at least Kovalainen or Trulli won’t have to deal with the consequences as Chandhok will have wrecked his own car :)

    2. First lap out as well wasn’t it?
      Hopefully not an expensive weekend for Lotus. ;-)

  25. Meh, this is just to make his India race seat look midly less pandering and slightly less bonkers.

  26. Scuderia Britalia Racing - Lucas "Mr. Veloce"
    21st July 2011, 20:27

    I really do think and want Chandhok will replace Trulli next year and Jarno will go race at Le Mans and make his wine. I hope Team Lotus give Karun a drive for the Indian Grand Prix. Karun is a very promising young driver and he deserves a chance, I just think Jarno has had his time in Formula One. I bet nothing will make Indian fans happier than to see both Chandhok and Karthikeyan (Who WILL be returning to the Hispania in India) at the inagural Indian Grand Prix.

  27. Well that’s one way of resolving the power steering problem. Maybe Trulli will do the straight-line testing now. Don’t need to steer for that! But this is no way for Jarno’s F1 career to end, I hope he gets more races in a competitive car before he’s done.

    Great for Karun, he’s been almost as good at PR for Lotus as Kovalainen and Tony Fernandes. And he’ll be better prepared for this race than any of his adventures with Hispania last year.

    Often one team changes a driver (Ricciardo) and then others follow. How long before Hulkenberg gets a race too?

  28. So one of the nicest but slowest drivers is being replaced by one of the nicest but slowest drivers…what’s in it for Lotus exactly?

  29. I agree Bullfrog, Jarno Trulli is a great driver and it would be a real shame to see him go out like this. I really hope he remains in the car for the rest of the season. Hopefully the power steering issue will be resolved by Hungary, and Trulli can start levelling that qualifying battle with Kovalainen. In my view Trulli could have been an amazing driver if he had ever had a properly competitive car. I think if Lotus use Chandhok instead of him for the rest of the season then they are fools. In my opinion he’s a lot better at talking than driving. Unfortunately drivers seem to be valued more on their PR answers than their driving. After all 2 amazing drivers Montoya and Raikkonen got pushed out because they didn’t say the right things in interviews. It would be a shame to see it work the other way and have drivers employed because they’re good at smiling at a camera. I know this is a bit of a rant but Trulli has always been my favourite driver and I hate the way he seems to be being slowly pushed out of F1. Shame on Lotus.

  30. The car isn’t competetive. It doesn’t matter who is in the seat, Senna, Piquet Jr.or Oprah ?? Nobody will accomplish a hill of beans with this car at this time.

  31. New blood for Lotus! Trulli takes many kilometers and I think it’s a good opportunity for Chandhok, who has shown good hands.

    One note, if someone it serves, contest to go to Abu Dhabi GP, see whether you think it

  32. Great news for Karun, hope he makes the most of it. He’s far too likable to not have a race seat.

  33. I think, and hopes, that Karun Chandhok is preparing for the Indian Grand Prix. Both Karun and the Indian spectators would really love that.

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