Karthikeyan hits back at Mallya

Responding to criticism from Vijay Mallya that he does not deserve to be in Formula One, Indian driver Narain Karthikeyan has hit back at the Force India boss, saying that he has no desire to drive for a “pedestrian team”.

Mallya is keen to have an Indian driver at the wheel of his car in time for the first Indian Grand Prix planned for 2011, but the Force India boss dismissed Karthikeyan – India’s only Formula One driver with 19 race starts for Jordan – saying that he didn’t fit his criteria. The Indian billionaire also ruled out GP2 star Karun Chandhok, against the opinion of Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone.

“In my F1 context, [Karthikeyan] doesn’t fit in,” Mallya told the Hindustan Times, “[Chandhok] is like my son, but I have not broken the professional rules of Force India F1 and announced in respect of Karun only because of my personal relationship.”

“The team is totally professional – whatever the team needs is going to be done, simple and straightforward. There is no compulsion to put an Indian driver for the sake of putting an Indian driver. On the contrary, I would love to have an Indian driver.

Karthikeyan was angered by the comments and has hit back at Mallya saying that he has no desire to make his comeback for a minnow.

“I spent a frustrating time with Jordan, where I had a car that just could not perform, [while] Spyker offered me a drive in August 2007, but I declined as the team was going nowhere,” he said.

“I have no desire to be with another pedestrian team that’s low on performance and loud on talk. I never even approached Mallya. The vibes from the camp have been extremely negative and I want to make it clear that I am not interested in driving for Force India.”