New Delhi: India's Karun Chandhok won't be racing in the inaugural Formula One race in the country as Team Lotus announced on Tuesday that Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli will retain their seats for the race this weekend.
The 27-year-old Chennai resident, a reserve driver for Team Lotus, was disappointed at not getting the chance to compete in front of home crowd along with compatriot Narain Karthikeyan, who will be driving for Hispania Racing Team.
"I am obviously disappointed that I won't have the chance to race on Sunday, I accept the team's decision to opt for the experience and talent they have at their disposal with Jarno and Heikki," said Chandhok.
Team Lotus' chief executive Tony Fernandes, who was born to an Indian father, said it was a difficult decision not to give Chandhok a chance to take part in the race.
"From the team perspective the key goal for us this weekend is to maintain the performance levels we saw in the last two races. I am sure there will be fans in India who want to see Karun race for us on Sunday and we had to make the best decision for the future of the team. While all the emotional reasons for him driving were right we were conscious that the limited running he has had in the car this season, largely due to the weather conditions that have hit most of his practice sessions, has not given him the best preparation for this race, so we have taken the very difficult decision not to run him in this weekend," the Malaysian business tycoon said in a statement.
"It is absolutely vital that we secure tenth place in 2011 to give us the platform to keep growing and despite the fact that Karun's performance levels have continued to improve every time he has driven for us in 2011, it was considered too much pressure to put on Karun to drive in his first home race, deal with all the attention he would have had and be able to perform at the same level as either of our regular race drivers over the whole weekend. For that reason we had to take the pragmatic decision to put our faith in the experience and pace we have in Jarno and Heikki, and are confident they will continue to perform at the level they have over the last two years with us," Fernandes added.
Chandhok said he accepts the decision, which was made in the best interest of the team.
"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 - sometimes the hard decisions have to be made, and in this case it must have been a very difficult choice, but 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," he said.
The Indian, however, will be seen during Friday's practice session at the Buddh International Circuit.
"I believe that 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," he said.
The team wants 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.
Chandhok, who drove for Hispania in 10 races last season, replaced Trulli in the German Grand Prix and finished 20th from the same place on the grid.