F1 could have two Indian drivers on the grid for next month’s inaugural Indian Grand Prix.
Karun Chandhok and Narain Karthikeyan are tipped to make one-off appearances at Lotus and HRT.
But should F1 teams drop their regular drivers to make way for sponsor-friendly local talent?
Just a few weeks ago we were discussing how F1 had failed to create local interest in Turkey, whose Grand Prix disappeared from the calendar after just seven years.
Promoting local drivers in this way can only be good for F1’s profile in an important new market.
It’s also good to see teams giving other drivers a chance to make names for themselves in Formula 1.
The Indian government has refusing to allow the teams to avoid customs duties, as is the practice at other races. This could jeopardise the running of the race.
The government has done so claiming F1 is ‘entertainment’ rather than ‘sport’. This is a transparent attempt to make more money from the race. As written here earlier, claiming F1 is not sport is ignorant nonsense.
But that fact is undermined when drivers who are supposed to be racing on merit are shown to be interchangeable with those bringing more funds or attention.
In one sense, I’m rather ambivalent about this debate – it’s up to the teams to decide who they put in their cars.
But I do think it asks some interesting questions about how far F1 should go the court popularity in new venues, and whether the sport is diminished by having its regular competitors replaced by others who are more appealing to local audiences.
The shortage of opportunities for new drivers to gain testing mileage makes it hard to fault teams trying to promote emerging talent. But that description does not fit a driver who made his F1 debut six years ago.
Debates and polls
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- When did F1 last have a grid this good?
Image ?é?® Team Lotus