Karun Chandhok disappointed to miss out on Indian GP drive

Karun Chandhok (right) and Narain Karthikeyan (left) help promote the Indian Grand Prix
Chandhok (right) has been heavily involved in promoting the Indian Grand Prix

Indian driver Karun Chandhok is disappointed to miss out on driving in his home grand prix - but is still hopeful of a future in Formula 1.

The 27-year-old had been expected to replace Jarno Trulli for Team Lotus at the Buddh International Circuit on Sunday but the team have stuck with Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen.

"I'm obviously disappointed that I won't be on the grid," he said.

"But I will go to the paddock in Delhi with my head held high."

Team Lotus boss Tony Fernandes said last month he wanted Chandhok to race in India but said it was "up to the team" - and the team are understood to have decided not to make any changes as they target 10th spot in the constructors' championship.

He added: "I feel I did everything possible in and out of the car, especially over the last three months, to show Tony that I can be in F1 in the longer term.

"Everyone knows the most important and emotional race for any driver is their home race and particularly in my case., I've been involved with the project since the track was an empty piece of land.

"I'm sure it's been a tough call for Tony to make and, on some level, I think he's feeling some pain about it as we've always had a good personal relationship.

"I joined this team mainly because of him and his faith in me while looking at the long term. I continue to hope that this long-term plan bears fruition and I hope that one day I get to race for him again."

Chandhok will still drive in free practice at the inaugural event in his homeland and added: "I am very excited about driving in free practice in front of my home crowd.

"I accept the team's decision to go for the experience of Jarno and Heikki.

"This is a team that is still young, still growing, and I know that they have to do their best to secure their future in the sport.

"I understand that this isn't about me. It's about the team and everything the 254 people on track and back at the factory are doing to build for the future.

"I believe I have grown as a driver in and out of the car this year with my role in the Friday practice sessions and I'm looking forward to playing my part in helping the team have another strong weekend on track."

Chandhok had been hoping to represent India on the grid alongside the country's first F1 driver Narain Karthikeyan, who returns for HRT in place of Vitantonio Liuzzi this weekend.

The team want to ensure they finish 10th in the constructors' standings ahead of Virgin Racing and HRT because it brings a guaranteed increased income - as well as other privileges, such as the size of motor homes and garage space.

Fernandes admitted it had been a tough call to leave Chandhok out.

He said on Twitterexternal-link: "As [Karun's father] Vicky Chandok said [it was a] very difficult decision, but getting 10th is crucial for the team and I have to put our most experienced drivers in who have been delivering for us. Last race was our best ever.

"I protected the interest of the team. If we don't have the right finances there won't be a team and that includes Karun."

Lotus had given Chandhok, who drove for HRT in 10 races last season, a chance to prove himself when he replaced Trulli at the German Grand Prix. He finished 20th from the same place on the grid.