Über Desi

Keeping it real, desi ishtyle

Karun dropped for the German GP and why he is coming back.

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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.

Karun Chandhok, HRT

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.

NASCAR Goes Brown

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Well, UPS is already in NASCAR, but a desi in NASCAR is definitely news. Narain Karthikeyan, who in 2004 became the first driver from India to race in the Formula One world championship, has jotted up another first to his credit. Karthikeyan, who previously has raced in the LeMans series as well for one of the privateer Audi teams, has secured a drive in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, as  Speed TV reported earlier today.

… Narain Karthikeyan «NA-rain kar-thee-KAY-un» will make his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut on March 27 in the Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway. Karthikeyan, who is India’s first NASCAR driver, will drive the Wyler Racing No. 60 SafeAuto Chevrolet Silverado.

SpeedTV further reports that Karthikeyan will drive the No. 60 Wyler Racing truck in selected races, the schedule for which is due to be announced soon.

Interestingly Starbeast Motorsports, a newly formed company that is supporting Karthikeyan’s drive is attempting to bring NASCAR into the consciousness of motor racing fans in Asia and Narain’s hiring seems to be part of that strategy.

At UberDesi, we have keenly followed Narain’s career from the feeder races to Formula 1 and LeMans. Rest assured that his NASCAR sourjourn will be watched with similar interest and covered in detail here.

All the best, Narain. At least this year, we will be watching the NASCAR Truck series. Do us proud.

Karun Chandhok get’s an F1 seat.

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After weeks of rumors, dropping hints and uncertainty, Karun Chandhok as confirmed by the HRT F1 team as their second driver.

HRT F1, which was originally named Campos Meta, will be the final team on the grid and the only team that has not tested their car yet. Karun will be partnering with Bruno Senna, Ayrton Senna’s nephew. Oddly enough, Bruno who was confirmed before Karun get’s the number 21 and Karun get’s the number 20 on his car.

With two rookies, a car designed by Dallara, who have not built an F1 car in a couple of decades and have not done any testing, I’m not going to expect instant results from the team. Having said that, Lotus F1 and Virgin Racing, the other two new teams have not had an amazing outing either.

Look for HRT F1 to make progress and possibly “steal” a few points later in the year.

Here is the second Indian to make it into F1 and for your viewing pleasure, I have the video from the launch. And if you did not know, Bruno, Karun’s team mate at HRT F1 was also his team mate in GP2 at iSport a couple of years ago.

‘Force India F1′ is now official.

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Vijay Mallya donning the logo for Force India.

The Force India F1 logo.
Image from Autoblog.

If you did not catch the F1 finale in Brazil, you missed one of the best races in decades. The three way tie saw, the underdog and least expected driver, Kimi pulling off an upset that the British fans and press and fans will be talking about for the next few years.

In related Desi news, we wrote earlier that Vijay Mallya had applied for the Spyker F1 team to be renamed Force India F1 and the FIA, the official governing body of motor sports around the world has approved the name. Home of Sport also points out that Mallya has been donning the logo for the past couple of races. The domain name is now owned by Kingfisher Airlines.

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Spyker to be renamed Force India

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Vijay Mallaya confirmed that they had applied to the FIA for a name change. The Spyker F1 team will be called Force India for 2008.

Talking about the name change Mallya said

I believe that there will be a huge surge of support for this team once we present it as the Force India team.

Having an Indian-owned Formula One team on the grid was something that was considered completely out of reach before…this reflects the new India and new ecomomic prosperity.

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