Vijay Mallya appears increasingly unlikely to choose an Indian driver for his Formula One team any time soon.
Three months ahead of the inaugural grand prix in Delhi, the Force India chief has engaged in a public spat with the populous country’s only two Indian Grand Prix drivers, Karun Chandhok – the Team Lotus reserves, and Narain Karthikeyan, who has raced for Hispania.
“I can only feel very sorry for them,” said Mallya. “They are getting drives by the teams who clearly can’t compete,” he added.
“If that’s what they want to do, drive an F1 car for the sake of driving an F1 car and winding up at the back, I can’t do anything about it.”
Mallya is running a search for a new Indian star, insisting that “There has got to be good, raw talent in India and I am determined to go find it”.
The criticism earned a pointed rebuke by Chandhok, whose father Vicky is a leading Indian motor racing official.
“I think it’s a bit sad that in one breath the chairman of our Indian ASN (Mallya) is talking about how much he has done for Indian drivers and then in the next breath he is criticising India’s only two Formula One drivers,” Chandhok itold Reuters.
“If you are going to criticise people, at least do it with some facts,” he added. “Having never tested either Narain or myself in one of his cars, he doesn’t have the facts.”
Chandhok also slammed Mallya’s driver search programme, insisting that “You are not going to find the next Indian star by running events in single-engined four-stroke rental karts on 400 metre tracks made out of concrete”.