A month ago, there was a lot of chatter about Karun facing the axe from the HRT team, for a lack of funds. While similar rumors had been circulating since the start of the season, there were a couple of incidents that week, which made me believe them. First there was Karun talking up the idea of an Indian driver at Force India F1 and how it would attract sponsors. But the second and more significant event was Karun’s mom, Chitra Chandhok re-tweeting fan’s messages referring to the rumor about him being dropped, because of a lack of funds.
When Bruno Senna was dropped for the British GP, I wondered how and why he was dropped in favor of Karun. Bruno obviously has way more following and seemed in a much better financial position than Karun. Later that weekend, news broke that Karun had a new sponsor. Jaypee group, the people who are building the circuit in Delhi for the Indian GP in 2011, at which point I thought that it was all well.
Today we hear the disappointing news that Karun was dropped and as always, we have no reasons. Adding insult to injury, no one, including Karun himself, is sure about when he will be back.
At the moment we are talking only about Hockenheim but with four drivers and two cars, it is probably inevitable I will miss some more races. We will sit down after Hockenheim and talk about the next race, which is in Hungary the following week. Then we have the summer break and we will see what happens. It is a little bit up in the air. The team are looking towards 2011. I have talked with Jose Ramon Carabante [team owner] about their plans for 2011 today so it’s not like there’s been a total breakdown between us or anything. It’s just something they want to do now.
The norm in F1 is for the driver to not “talk”, but Karun is changing all that and in the process winning a bunch of fans, not just outside the F1 fraternity, but the hardcore insiders. Instead of trash talking, he had something constructive to say.
As a racing driver it’s obviously not great to be missing races but I’m not in contention for the world championship or in a points battle over anything. I came into this team looking to establish myself as a credible, respectable Formula 1 driver and I’ve done that. I expect to be back for some races later in the year. The team gave me the chance to be in F1 and I have to respect and support this decision.
Like Narain, I think Karun could have proved a lot more, had he been put in a better car. But one thing is for sure, he is a very cool customer (he is tweeting his weekend plans) and has made a bunch of people love him, by being himself. For that one reason, I’d love to see him back on the grid.
But one thing I’ve known as an F1 fan is that Karun is one of the few people, who is loved by all. Maybe it was his first interview at the start of the season or the fact he is open or that he deals with things well, but judging by the reaction form the general public, it’s only a matter of time before he comes back. And would not be surprised if he shows up in the Force India cockpit next year.
Ps: If you have not, I suggest you take a look at Karun’s blog posts. Specifically the one where he talks about what it took for him to get on the grid. I’ve never read anything close to this from any of the current F1 drivers.