Should Chandhok and Karthikeyan race in India?

Debates and polls

Karun Chandhok, Lotus, Monza, 2011

Karun Chandhok, Lotus, Monza, 2011

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.

I say

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.

You say

Should Karun Chandhok and Narain Karthikeyan race in India?

  • Chandhok and Karthikeyan should get to race (34%)
  • Just Chandhok should get to race (28%)
  • Just Karthikeyan should get to race (2%)
  • Neither driver should get to race (24%)
  • No opinion on which driver should get to race (12%)

Total Voters: 289

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143 comments on Should Chandhok and Karthikeyan race in India?

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  1. JohnBt said on 15th September 2011, 1:27

    Nope because they’re not good enough. Yes because they’re Indians.
    Can you Imagine how pissed Vicky will be.

    Anyways they’re solving the tax problem. Welcome to the India.

  2. wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 15th September 2011, 2:29

    Though I think neither driver should get the drive but I guess for the marketing purpose they will get it.

  3. James Williams said on 15th September 2011, 8:31

    How can the Indian Government classing F1 as entertainment be any reason against the two drivers being there? They aren’t related at all!

  4. alexf1man said on 15th September 2011, 9:39

    Better Idea: Drop Liuzzi for Karthikeyan.

  5. As per usual F1 has decided they can artificially adapt their sport by pandering to the needs of fans. This is not WWF, it’s supposed to be a sport and not as suggested by the Indian government mere entertainment.
    My vote is Neither..

    Give this sport some credibility and if an Indian F1 driver deserves a seat at the Indian GP then he should get it.

  6. I don’t think it really matters.

    I mean, who are they really hurting? Ricciardo has done a good job considering the car he’s in, and he’s not the original second driver in the team.

    And also considering this is the inaugural race in India it will hopefully provide more interest to help sustain the obvious developing market for motor racing in India.

    Plus Narain drove the first half of the season anyway. Good on them if they get to drive for their country at it’s first race.

  7. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 15th September 2011, 13:39

    I don’t have any problem with them racing. Ultimately F1 is a sport and sport implies entertainment, at least for the fans. If the teams are happy to run the risk let them do so, they’re the ones who will have to rue the mistake if it bites them on the backside. I don’t think teams should make a habit of it, I think an inaugural race is about the limit of what they should be seen to be getting away with.

  8. drmouse (@drmouse) said on 15th September 2011, 14:44

    Taking the question as a more general “Should teams change drivers to make F1 more popular at a venue?”, I had to vote Neither.

    The simple fact is that, if they are good enough, they will get a regular seat at a team. If they are not, they will not.

    If teams start swapping drivers around just to get local interest, it stops being the pinnacle of motorsport it has always claimed to be. Drivers should get their seats on merit, no more.

    I am not saying the 2 drivers in question aren’t good enough (I don’t know too much about them, to be honest), but giving them a race just because it is their home GP is ludicrous! This is a sport, not a TV talent show, and popularity should not influence driver choice. It should be determined by the driver’s abilities alone. End of.

  9. Chandhok is worse than Narain so don’t know why he has got so many more votes. Either way I hope neither race as it is frankly amateur to see teams replace a driver for one race only. That is one thing that should be kept to the 60-80s when it was commonplace, like the early days of Frank Williams’ team.

  10. AAR91 (@aar91) said on 16th September 2011, 3:42

    I think this all the beginning of a slippery slope: F1’s moving further and further away from a sport and is becoming more and more money-driven. Also, I don’t like the precedent here, what happens when teams start putting in drivers from host countries who don’t have the ability to be even close to satisfactory.

  11. themagicofspeed (@) said on 19th September 2011, 22:47

    Simply no to both of them. They’ve both had race drives before and neither of them set their seat on fire nevermind the world.

  12. Mallesh Magdum (@malleshmagdum) said on 18th October 2011, 14:31

    Look guys, F1 is being as an entertainment due to large amounts of corporate money being poured into the race and very high ticket prices which are out of reach of common f1 fanatics like me……..Govt did the same thing to the Indian Premier League which is the world’s richest cricket tournament…..It would be wrong to say that the our Govt is wrong, but they aren’t entirely correct too

  13. Mallesh Magdum (@malleshmagdum) said on 18th October 2011, 14:34

    correction…previous post: *being considered as an entertainment by the govt

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