Team Lotus have today announced that test and reserve driver Karun Chandhok will replace Jarno Trulli for the German Grand Prix this weekend.
The Indian driver, who competed in 10 grand prix last season for Hispania Racing, will provide feedback to the team as a comparison against that of regular drivers Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen.
Trulli will still be at the NÃ¼rburgring this weekend though, assisting Chandhok throughout. “I'm looking forward to working with Karun this weekend and doing whatever I can to help him get the most out of his opportunity in Germany,” said the Italian. “It's great that the team is true to its word of helping develop young talent, particularly from parts of the world where it is even harder to break through into the top rung of motorsport, so I'll be there to give him guidance and assistance, in and out of the car.”
Team principal Tony Fernandes thanked Trulli for stepping aside this weekend, but insists that this is not a sign that the Italian is leaving the team. In fact, Team Lotus are currently negotiating a new contract with the 37-year-old.
“I [want] to take this chance to thank Jarno for helping make Karun's opportunity this weekend possible,” said Fernandes. “He has been extremely accommodating in stepping to the side for this race and our commitment to him is unwavering. 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.
“[Jarno] 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. For this weekend he will be on hand to lend his huge experience and support to Karun and I am sure Jarno, Heikki and Karun will do me, the whole team and all our fans very proud indeed.”
Chandhok is understandably looking forward to being back on the F1 starting grid again, and is determined to put in a good performance for the team. “Ever since I first joined the team I have been looking forward to this opportunity and I am determined to do my best to repay their faith in me and help the team progress, this season and for many years to come,” he said. “I am approaching the weekend in a very realistic frame of mind. I will be doing my best to push and to make sure I learn as much as possible all weekend, take each session as it comes and work as closely as I can with the engineers and the whole team to do the best job I can.
“Whatever happens, I am very excited about lining up on the grid on Sunday and I know there will be millions of Indian fans, and Team Lotus fans around the world, who will be behind me and the whole team, so I will do the best I can to give them something to cheer for.”
Technical Officer Mike Gascoyne also welcomed the news that Chandhok would be in the car this weekend. He is particularly interested about Chandhok’s feedback on the power steering of the T128, which seems to have been a constant cause of frustration for Trulli this sesason, but not for Kovalainen.
“I am delighted that we are able to give Karun a full weekend in the car,” said Gascoyne. “He has been a very good addition to our driver line-up and now we are giving him a chance to take the next step in fulfilling his potential.
“Jarno will be stepping aside for him for this race and we will use Karun's feedback over the weekend as a comparison against Jarno's and Heikki's experiences this season with a number of aspects of the car, including the power steering system, to help us keep moving forward in 2011 and beyond.
“I am sure Karun will equip himself very well in this and in his performances in and out of the car all weekend. The whole team is looking forward to helping him get the most out of his time in the cockpit in Germany and it will be good to see him grab this chance and make the most of it.”