Chandhok considers F1 future
London - F1 rookie Karun Chandhok has dismissed speculation about his status at cash-strapped HRT and made clear that he is keen to be part of the team's plans for the future.
Media reports in India suggested recently that the Chennai-born driver's place at the grid newcomers could be in jeopardy because of a lack of funding.
"There is so much speculation and I don't know if it is being started by other drivers who are trying to get in or whatever," Chandhok told Reuters on a visit to Silverstone at the weekend.
"Three weeks ago (Brazilian) team mate Bruno (Senna) was the one. All over the internet it was 'Bruno's out and so and so is coming in with money' and this week it seems to be my turn," he added.
"As far as I know I am in Valencia (this weekend's European Grand Prix in Spain), I am in the car and I am in for the rest of the season."
Chandhok has been placed in six of his eight races this season, albeit well behind the leaders, whereas Senna has finished only twice.
The 26-year-old, who lives near Silverstone and was up at the British Grand Prix circuit to watch the weekend's MotoGP action on a new layout, is only the second Indian to compete in Formula One after groundbreaker Narain Karthikeyan.
Next year, with an Indian Grand Prix scheduled for New Delhi, he hopes to become the first to compete in front of his home supporters.
In his dreams it would be with Silverstone-based Force India, owned by billionaire Vijay Mallya, but HRT will still be Chandhok's first point of call in contract negotiations.
"The first thing is to see what the possibility is at HRT because they do have a good plan in place for the future," he said.
"It's not been made public yet because there are still a few things to be worked out I think from their side but from what (owner) Jose Ramon (Carabante) told us in Montreal the 2011 programme looks very interesting for them.
"It's certainly something that you have to think about very seriously," said Chandhok.
"I think they (HRT) seem very happy with me from the start of the season, they have been very supportive and publicly saying how happy they are with the job I'm doing.
"So that's obviously the first place to start. Beyond that, who knows."
Force India, who took their first points and podium placing last season, are now an established midfield team with Germany's Adrian Sutil and Italian Vitantonio Liuzzi driving for them.
With the drives looking locked in for 2011 at the top four teams, a Force India seat would be one of the best available at the moment.
Despite being overlooked by Mallya in the past, Chandhok said it would make sound business sense for the two of them to get together.
"It's a logical link people would make for me and Force India. I think now I've proved to be a respectable Formula One driver and they are obviously now a very respectable midfield Formula One team," he said.
"From a commercial point of view it makes sense for them to have (an Indian driver).
"It's tough to raise sponsorship in the market but it's even tougher if you've got an Indian driver and an Indian team in two different camps."
Chandhok said an Indian driver at an Indian team could pull in local sponsors currently sitting on the fence and make the package as a whole more attractive in a tough business environment. It would also give Indian fans a real focus.
"It's no secret that all three of the new teams need more sponsors and more investment," the driver said of the current situation with HRT.
"It's very difficult for new teams today because the top teams are able to offer really cut price deals, a lot cheaper than before. Any sponsor who has got even a few million is able to do a cheap deal with a top team, unfortunately for the smaller ones."