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Chandhok to take Trulli’s place at Team Lotus for Germany
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Posted By: James Allen  |  21 Jul 2011   |  11:12 am GMT  |  80 comments

Jarno Trulli will not race at the Nurburgring after Team Lotus announced that reserve driver Karun Chandhok will race car number 21 this weekend.

He becomes the second Friday driver to take up a race seat after Daniel Ricciardo took Narain Kartikeyan’s seat at HRT. Both Ricciardo and Chandhok are Red Bull backed drivers.

Trulli has been struggling with the power steering this season, which has prevented him from having the precision in his steering which he needs to get the most out of the car, especially in qualifying.

It is not clear at this stage how long this situation will last.

Team principal Tony Fernandes said that this move did not mean that Trulli had been dropped, “He (Trulli) has been extremely accommodating in stepping to the side for this race and our commitment to him is unwavering, ” said the Malaysian.

“I am delighted to confirm that we are in the process of negotiating an extension to his contract with us and we are all looking forward to unveiling the details of that very soon. He is a key member of our team and I hope that we can give him a car as soon as possible that allows him to utilise his considerable talent to the full.”

Trulli made some very downbeat noises about his season last month and said that it would be better to leave F1 than to continue as it was going for him at the moment.

This weekend gives Chandhok a chance to show what he can do in an F1 car. He had limited appearances last season with Hispania, at the start of their first season when the car was half developed and unreliable.

This season has has done some Friday morning running only and has been more prominent as a broadcaster with Radio 5 Live than as a racing driver.

The 27 year old Indian is a two times race winner in GP2 and a very popular member of the F1 community. It will not be easy for him to go up against Heikki Kovalainen, who has put in some very strong performances lately, including making it into the second part of qualifying on two occasions.

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1

Okay. I hope Trulli returns … and stays there from Hungary onwards.

Chandhok’s performance has been embarrassing to say the least. He finished last, behind Heikki, the Virgins and the HRT of Ricciardo. Chandhok ain’t no rookie anymore, unlike Ricciardo who only had his second race …

2

James,

After seeing the Lotus team, it would appear that the Ferrari team page is your default home page logo colours. More rocket red perhaps?

Looking forward to the McLaren team page and your chioce of colour scheme, rocket red with chrome or traditional orange? Can’t wait to see it! 🙂

3

Is this a new model for teams at the bottom of the grid. A number 1 driver for the season and then a dozen other drivers, each a different nationality, each hired to pull in sponsorship for an important race on the calendar. One British, one German, one Japanese, one Spanish, one Brazilian, one Italian, one Indian and so on.

4

I suspect this move was part of the deal Lotus have struck with RB for next season – continued use of technical “stuff”, now with added KERS.

Fernandes was probably pushing for a deal, and RB threw a drive for Chandhok into the mix! He’s also probably looking ahead to the India GP. He’s a shrewd businessman after all.

5

So it seems now Chandok has changed his helmet to match the colour of his Team Lotus car. What’s going on with these drivers?

It reminds me of the old Indycar days of the 1990’s, where the helmets were often just the colour of the sponsors. It looks appallingly tacky.

I am the only one mourning the apparent passing of the great tradition where the helmet design is the drivers signature?

6

I am the only one mourning the apparent passing of the great tradition where the helmet design is the drivers signature?

No, you aren’t. I’d like to see some more interesting lids too. Not just national colours / sponsors.

7

could anyone elaborate on this power steering problem? what exactly is the problem?

8

It doesn’t give him the “feel” that he needs. And with no “feel”, there is no confidence that you are hitting your apex, etc. No confidence means you are likely to enter corners slower, on and on.

This is o e of the reasons he gives for kov being faster.

9

yeh but technically whats the issue – its not something hes said before about any other car hes driven i dont think.

what is technically wrong with the power steering thats not giving him the feedback he needs? its an unusual problem for a driver to say.

10

I have yet to read anything on it. Must just be a limitation of the current system.

11

This is a dress rehearsal for the Indian GP and I say, give the kid a chance. He has kept Bruno on his toes with a car which simply doesn’t sit on four wheels. Drawing conclusions from KC’s HRT stint would be unfair hence.

12

“This weekend gives Chandhok a chance to show what he can do in an F1 car. He had limited appearances last season with Hispania, at the start of their first season when the car was half developed and unreliable.”

That car was hardly developed all year. I think a better statement would be that it was poorly understood and poorly set up for the first half of the year. Their rate of learning was what dropped their times through the year, since their only improvements to the car were to try to get the car to finish a race, not to actually make it faster.

They ran the same aero package for the entire year. The front wing they debuted with was used in every single race, from Monaco to Monza (i.e. at both high-downforce and low-downforce circuits).

It didn’t help that they had an untested car being set-up by two rookies that had severely limited time behind the wheel in an F1 car. They were lost, and it was only in the latter half of the year that they could really make gains through being able to set up the car thanks to Klien.

13

Fernandes didn’t say next year’s deal was for a race seat, did he?

14

Well spotted & said! 😀 LOL!!!

15

I’m pleased to see Chandok getting a run in a car that is not quite at the back of the field, I think he deserves a few starts. If he’s half as fast this weekend as he is articulate and informative, he’ll give Heikki a hard time. I like seeing some rotation among the seats. Trulli’s demeanour this year has been a bit of a downer but, pr spin or otherwise, I was happy to read some positive words from him about giving some assistance to Chandok this weekend. Go Karun!

16

The amount of times Jarno has used this power steering issue as an excuse or to make people feel sorry for him is ridiculous. I’m thinking Valencia in particular. Credit to him he’s a great driver but if Kovalainen can handle with it so can he. If Chandhok can deal with it Trulli deserves to be dropped for the better of the team. He’s knocking on a bit and maybe that is why he’s not outperforming his team mate. He should just accept this and stop blaming the car. After all we haven’t heard Heikki or Karun complaining. I hope Chandhok races in India too

17

Wow! I quite like the look of this Lotus page! Great look!

Regarding the subject of the note: IMO, it’s the first dubious move by the team, especially if it was solely because of the sponsorship that the Indian can bring to the team. At the same time, it could be just to compare Chandhok’s pace (after all Chandhok is a rather mediocre driver) and to show that Trulli’s problems are not caused by the car.

Still a very dubious move.

18

I prefer to believe that since Jarno isn’t getting his new steering until at least Hungary and therefore isn’t likely to shine in Germany, it was felt that this would be a good moment to give Karun a go.

No doubt Tony, like the rest of us, would like to see what Chandhok can do in a car with a wheel at each corner, instead of last year’s HRT.

19

I say give the bloke a chance. I think he’s earned a fair crack of the whip. If I’m not mistaken Chandhok scored HRTs best finish of the season last year despite being removed from the race seat after Silverstone. He also kept Bruno Senna very honest and you don’t win races in GP2 without being half decent. I know for F1 you’ve got to be the real deal but let’s give the guy a chance. He’s a great personality and I think he has the temperament to knuckle down and learn. Very best of luck Karun!!

20

I was banned (for life) from posting comments on Saward’s blog for saying this (would be a cool bit of PR if James banned me too): [mod]

A waste of time. 1 Malaysia Racing – too much PR, 0 points, likely to be sold to a new investor or maybe some Korean car company will buy this new version of Arrows (at least they were able to score points from time to time and we’re talking top 6 and not top 8 or 10).

21

haha i got banned by Fernandes’ best friend Saward too!

Its a classic case of cult of personality. All these fans and commentatros are so obsessed with fernandes every move, that even when he makes a questionable one, like putting chandok in the car, all his fans make up a million and one excuses and reasons why it is actually a good move, and are blind to the negative consequences

22

Different times.

Arrows raced in a time when it wasn’t uncommon for five cars to crash and another eight would blow engines, and two might have gearbox failures. With reliability in F1 at an all-time high (thanks to engine freezes), it’s not possible for a little team to build a conservative car that can score the odd point or two when the top teams falter… they just don’t falter nearly as much now. When is the last time that more than five or six drivers weren’t classified? Or, more tellingly, when was the last time that the only classified drivers were all points scorers? I’ll bet it was when Arrows was still on the grid.

Also, with Lotus making ground and starting to challenge the lower-midfield, they are going in the right direction. Last year they were fighting Virgin, and now they’re fighting established teams.

23

It has to be said 1 Malaysia are the ones having plenty of DNFs themselves, so maybe HRT will be able to overtake Caterh… Team Whatever! I won’t be brainwashed by Fernandes and Co., there’s nothing behind those glorious press releases.

Pity I wasn’t banned, that would’ve provided me with a moral boost.

24

Do us all a favour and remove yourself before James or his mods do. It’ll make us all feel better and it’s clearly what you’re gunning for anyhow. In short: get out

25

Oh, and Stewart was the last team before that to start from scratch, in 1997, and they had 26 DNF’s in their first year, and only scored points at Monaco where there were only four finishers on the lead lap. Their second year recorded 20 DNF’s.

…but 1997 was 14 years ago.

26

Lotus – 6 non-finishes

Virgin – 4 non-finishes

Williams – 5 non-finishes

HRT – 5 non-finishes

Sauber – 5 non-finishes

They only have one more DNF than three other teams, so that argument doesn’t exactly hold water.

Also, I am not paying attention to press releases, just results. For a team in their second year, given that we are now in 2011, they are doing well. Toyota was the last team to truly start from scratch, and they were doing quite poorly in their first two years, despite a MUCH larger budget. In their first year, they had 14 retirements and tied for last with Arrows (who didn’t even finish the year) in the WCC and were beaten by Minardi; in their second year, they had 12 retirements, and only beat Jordan and Minardi. Given the difference in resources and the lack of testing allowed these days, I would say that Lotus is on a very good course, comparatively.

As I said before, these are different times. You can’t design a car, build it in your woodshed and qualify on pole on the car’s debut like Tyrrell did in 1970. You can’t win your debut race like Wolf Racing did in Argentina in 1977. This is 2011, and too many teams are bringing their A-game every single race.

That aside, you only get banned for being insulting, not for offering an opinion that is different from James Allen’s. You get moderated for making inflammatory comments. Getting banned is no victory.

27

Is this the end of F1 road for Jarno? I think so.

28

I’ve been reading in some F1 websites that Team Lotus is, in fact, set to retain Jarno Trulli for 2012 – that a new contract is in the works. However, I honestly think it’s high time for Jarno to hang it up. Let’s face it, he agreed to drive for Tony Fernandez’s team not entirely bec. he wants to help but rather, so he can stick around F1 a little bit longer, and keep that illustrious tag of being an “F1 Driver”.

Trulli’s shown flashes of brilliance in his career, but they’re just that… flashes of brilliance. Whenever his performance trails off it’s always “the car”. As if each driver doesn’t have his own problems with “the car”: some a little less than others but everyone has to drive/work around certain technical issues – big or small. On the other hand, I sure hope Karun Chandok finally proves himself worthy with this opportunity, bec. there sure seems to be a lot of talent and potential in there.

29

They didnt say he was to be a driver though did they?

He has added little to the team this year. Perhaps if they could channel some of the hot air from his mouth to the diffuser they’d gain many more points of downforce. 😉

30

Excellent to hear Karun is being given a chance to do a full weekend. Will be interesting to see how he benefits from a full weekend. Shame we cant see the same with Bruno Senna (who I still rate very highly).

I can’t think for a moment that Trulli will stay on next year at Lotus personally. He’s been shown lacking against Heikki, and they could put in someone younger to have a try. No sense in paying him millions when a younger driver from GP2 or Karun would probably bring financing to the team.

I loved the Harry Redknapp analogy of the poster above. Made me chuckle.

31

Agree. Senna has only been racing for a fraction of the time his competitors have been. He smashed Chandhok in the same team in GP2. I really hope Senna gets a chance. Even for a weekend or two.

32

I presume that this could be a rehearsal for the Indian grand prix, Lotus would be mad not to use him in the race, purely for marketing reasons alone

33

The timing to me suggests that Trulli has been benched this weekend because there wasn’t much point in him racing with the current power steering before the new power steering comes in at Hungary. Fernandes saw an opportunity to give Chandhok a go to evaluate him.

I’m just not sure why Trulli agreed to it, or why Fernandes is saying that he is negotiating a new deal with Trulli for next year.

And is how Red Bull backed is Chandhok? He has always seemed very separate to the Red Bull young driver stream. He doesn’t ever seem to have been on the radar for STR as a proper third driver.

34

Agree with the first point.

Why did Trulli agree? He didn’t mind sitting out for a weekend where he would be driving a car he can’t feel. He knows that they just want Chandhok in the car for one race, and he knows if he gives up this one, Lotus may put Chandhok in Kovalainen’s car for the Indian GP to make it fair. Give up a race in a car with steering he doesn’t like to gain a race later in the year when the steering might suit him better.

As for Red Bull, I think they assisted him early on… however, I am pretty sure their system is a lump sum at the start of their career, and then they spend that money buying rides and getting up the ladder. Run out of money before you can prove yourself worthy of F1? You get cut from the program. I suspect he ran out of Red Bull money before he proved himself, or was just simply unable to prove himself when it mattered.

35

Warm up for the Indian GP? I suspect Karun is likely to replace Truli there too.

2 Indian drivers inthe GP would certainly detract a little from FI.

36

My thoughts also

37

I think Chandhok has generally been underrated, as he performed well against Senna last year in the dreadful HRT. He is also very media/sponsor/fan-friendly and I wish him all the best this weekend.

Moreover, his Red Bull-backed chance is, to me, rather more appealing than Ricciardo’s, the Lotus being a better car than the HRT and Kovalainen being a better yardstick than Liuzzi.

38
Tom in adelaide

Would be nice if heidfeld were moved aside for Bruno for a race or two towards the end of this year.

39

That depends on the position opf Renault in the Constructores Champtionship at the end of the season.

If they can’t catch the people above, and can’t be caught, then a driver swap can happen. If they need points, then they have to go with the driver most likely to score.

Neil.

40

I would think the Japanese and Brazilian fans would love it to happen at one or both of those GP’s given their fondness of Ayrton.

Off topic, but I just read The Life Of Senna and would really recommend it to people who enjoyed the film and want to know more about him. (I’m now reading a book about Schumacher by someone called James Allen…now where have I heard that name before?!?!)

41

Disgusted

**********

I am disgusted that Karun Chandhok got Jarno’s seat not that I think Jarno deserves that seat. But I think that the only place in the paddock Karun belongs to is THE MEDIA ROOM.

James last sentences are always the best :

“…has been more prominent as a broadcaster with Radio 5 Live than as a racing driver.

…and a very popular member of the F1 community.”

Karun made a lot of friends among the F1 media & the F1 social media and those never stopped lobbying him to take Jarno’s seat. It is annoying to see some of the fans fall in that trap accepting what the media tell them.

Generally, when the media push a driver, they give arguments about his achievements in lower formulas. Remind, most of us disagreed with Maldonado despite him winning GP2 title.

When the media push Karun, they don’t come with any argument, they simply like him.

If sympathy was the criteria to got a seat, we should throw Hamilton and Alonso away and ban them from any motorsport.

If talent is the criteria, than Karun has absolutely nothing to do in F1, remember he destroyed his car on his out lap in Australia.

42

Arguments agreeing with Jo:

Add Kobayashi to that list… poor in GP2, but rips it up in F1.

He certainly didn’t fare any better than Senna last year.

Arguments against Jo:

Everyone is lobbying for someone else’s seat. It’s F1, not a gentlemen’s club. You’re only as good as your last race. You better bring points or money or both. You bring neither, you get cut.

Money talks, and even if Chandhok doesn’t bring money, this is an excellent opportunity for him to raise his profile and gain experience ahead of the Indian GP, which he is sure to race in. It works out quite well, since this is the last race with the old power steering system that Jarno can’t stand. Jarno sits out a race that would just frustrate him, and Chandhok gets experience, and Lotus can leverage the exposure to possibly gain an Indian sponsor for the rest of the season (or even just for the Indian GP).

The whole scenario seems to work out well. It’s a good chance for everyone. Chandhok can show he has talent if he has any that was masked by the HRT (we all know that drivers can look terrible in one car yet excel in another; Button was written off in my mind in a Renault, but greatly impressed me in the McLaren against Hamilton). Jarno can sit out one race and jump back in for Hungary, when they’ll have the new steering rack. Lotus can angle for more sponsorship. The Indian GP can sell more tickets.

Conclusion:

I’m not disgusted… I think it’s a good move.

43

Your arguments are perfect, I can’t disagree.

44

Agree until you said through away Hamilton and Alonso.

Hamilton especially during 07 and 08 was the darling of the British.

As for Alonso, the spainiards love him. Before they couldnt fill a GP. Now they easily can.

It’s similiar to the beat up with Di Resta. But Di Resta is actually challenging Sutil (though not smashing him or even beating him like some woulds uggest)

45

I wonder if Trulli’s extention is one that will keep him in the team as an advisor like Oliver Panis was kept on at Toyota. I cant see any reason to keep hom on as a driver when there are so many talents without a drive at the moment.

I’ve always been on the opinion that people confuse nice guy and talent with Chandhok. He’s a fav of the British press as he is always willing to give him a qoute or appear on tv at short notice. He’s a bit like the Harry Redknapp of F1.

In turn they have championed him as some sort of world beater with a devine right to be be in F1 touting him around for every drive going. I’ve seen nothing in his GP2,HRT or Lotus Friday drives to suggest he is anywhere near good enough.

I wish him well and hope I am wrong. After all he is a nice bloke.

46

I agree re Chandhok. In 9 races he was with Senna he only out-qualified him twice and half the time Senna was around a full second quicker than Karun. He’s certainly caught my attention – but for his punditry!

I don’t buy his 14th places as being an indicator whatsoever when they were at races with higher attrition rates.

Whatever the opinion of his time with HRT, I think his outing(s) with Lotus this season will certainly determine what future he has in F1.

47

Whiel i agree I think yuou’re missing the most obvious facts.

Senna has raced less time yet in 2008 GP2 they were teammates

Senna 64

Chandhok 31

Rumours of course about the HRT’s being not exactly equal

48

Well done James! You saw this one coming a few weeks ago! This is still earlier than I expected though – after I read your piece earlier I was thinking maybe Indian GP plus a few GPs around it – which would imply that he wouldn’t get his chance till Singapore or something.

Under this framework I would therefore expect Jarno to be back in the car at some later point this season (unless Karun does very well or Jarno feels he’s had enough), but if his performances don’t improve then this could still be his last season in the sport – as a driver at least.

An aside, but out of interest is Chandhok really Red Bull backed? I know they have helped him in the past, and if I recall even gave him his first taste of F1 at a test back in the 2007/08 winter. But I didn’t think he still had ties with them – for example I thought by the time he had joined Hispania he had raised his own sponsorship for it. That said, I could obviously be wrong.

49

It’s been planned for a few months. Anyone down at Whilton knew he was pounding the laps in for more than just ‘fun’.

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