The Telegraph
Saturday , October 27 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Robert Fernley rules out an Indian seat

Greater Noida: Force India, the only Indian team in fray in Formula One, have no immediate plan to have any Indian driver on board, according to Robert Fernley, the deputy principal of the team.

Talking to The Telegraph on Friday, Fernley said: “For the moment, we are very happy with the current set of drivers we have. Why do you want to have Indian drivers,” he asked. “You want to be simply patriotic or stay competitive on the circuit. Force India are trying to improve their performance every year.”

Fernley’s words thus ended all hopes of an Indian driver to have a contract with Force India in the new season. Recently, former world champion Lewis Hamilton said if Narain Karthikeyan could race for Force India, it would be a huge stepping stone for the Indian driver.

Karthikeyan drives for Spanish outfit Hispania Racing Team (HRT) and Hamilton said a driver could not do much in a slow car. “It is unfortunate that Narain is driving a slow car. Other drivers would also struggle in slow car and it does not mean you are a bad driver. It would be wonderful if he was in Force India which is a pretty good team. It would be a huge stepping stone for him,” Hamilton said.

“I am a Brit, driving for a British team in a British car. To me it’s very positive and it has done wonders for us so I hope it would be the same for him and India,” Hamilton added.

Fernley, however, made it clear that he felt no Indian driver was good enough to be on board with Force India. “Show me a good Indian driver and I will definitely be interested in him. For the moment, we have no such plan.”

There are, however, talks that one of the Force India drivers, Nico Hulkenberg, has already signed a deal with Sauber next year to replace McLaren-bound Mexican Sergio Perez. Asked who could be the possible replacement for the German, Fernley said: “Only the media is saying he is going…Nico never said it. Let’s not speculate. We will take a call after December.”

Fernley hoped that Force India would be a force to reckon with in the circuit in the next few years. “Some teams like Red Bull, Ferrari or McLaren are absolute podium finishers. We are among potential podium finishers. We are hoping to break into the next level very soon,” he said.