Mallya asks Chandhok to be ready for Force India

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Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Sep 7 (UNI) Force India Formula One team owner Vijay Mallya has given a clear indication that Karun Chandhok could have a testing role with his team next year but the ace driver will have to wait for some time to reach the Formula One stage.

''I think he is still a year away from the race seat but I would love to give Karun a go as a test driver first,'' Mallya said at the Belgian Grand Prix.

''I need to see him winning GP2 consistently, not an odd one here and there. He has it in him to do it and when he does it, sure I would love to have an Indian driver in the car if I could,'' Mallya added.

''But at the end of the day, I cannot be encouraging the team's performance on one hand and then doing something that might compromise the result.

The liquor barron said Chandhok still needs to be consistent as he has still not reached a point where he can be grabbed by the Formula One team but added that he was hoping that the driver soon do it.

The 24-year-old Chandhok has won two races in the GP2 support series including his first at Spa last year and in Germany this season.

Chandhok is considered as the best prospect in India after Narain Karthikeyan who had raced for Jordan, which no more exists, in 2005.

Currently, Force India has three foreign drivers in Vitantonio Liuzzi of Italy as its test and reserve driver while compatriot Giancarlo Fisichella partners Germany's Adrian Sutil in the race lineup.

Mallya, however, made clear that the 35-year-old Fisichella, who has already won a race with Renault and now in his 13th season, would be a part of his team in 2009 as well.

''This team desperately needs the experience of Giancarlo, has needed it, and as we design a brand new car for 2009, needs it even more,'' he said.

The billionare further added that his team has never had the benefit of an experienced driver.

''I breed and race horses, and what the jockey tells you, nobody else can,'' added Mallya. ''You can have the best trainer in the world, but you need a jockey to tell you how good or bad the horse is.

''Similarly, I firmly believe driver feedback on a car is invaluable and that is where Giancarlo is performing a very valuable role for us,'' he noted.

Mallya said he is keen to see an improved performance in 2009 and is trying to ensure that the Ferrari-powered Force India was best placed to take advantage of new regulations.

He added that negotiations were ongoing with Ferrari to secure a broader package.

''I am concentrating on getting myself a drivetrain and KERS (kinetic energy retrieval system),'' he said. ''There's no way we can develop KERS. it would be stupid even to attempt it.

''My preference is to buy a full drivetrain (engine and transmission) from somebody and I have asked Ferrari because they are my partner.

''Hopefully they will give it to me at a sensible price.

If they don't, then I have a problem and may have to look elsewhere,'' Mallya said adding, ''But there's no dearth of potential suppliers.'' Force India has been poles apart from the leaders and is yet to score a point this season. The only time it came close was in Monaco where Sutil ran in fourth place until Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen rammed into his car just seven minutes from the finish.

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