Karun Chandhok can kiss his Force India ambitions good-bye, at least for the time being, after chairman of the resurgent outfit Vijay Mallya said he doesn't consider any Indian driver good enough for Formula One.
Emboldened after the team's stunning show in the last two races, Mallya was amused by the populist demand that Karun should be handed a race seat at the team even though the
Chennai driver did not have an F1 super license.
"My job is to make sure that the team is successful. Whichever driver I need, that is completely my decision. I want someone to convince me and justify the drama about this Indian driver thing," Mallya told Indian journalists via a teleconference from Monza, where Force India driver Adrian Sutil came fourth to underline the outfit's growing stature.
"The fact remains, right now no Indian driver is good enough for Formula One," he added.
"Force India carries the hope of a billion and I too would love to have an Indian driver but he must be good enough.
"There is no rule, even though some people propagate otherwise, that you have to have a driver of particular nationality. We need only the best drivers to get the maximum performance," he added.
Karun himself did no good to his cause, finishing 19th and 12th in this weekend's GP2 races at Monza.
Mallya was baffled by the clamour for a seat for Karun even though the Chennai driver doesn't qualify for a Formula One super licence.
"First and foremost, FIA rules say a driver must finish among the top three in GP2 championship before he becomes eligible for an F1 super licence. Now if FIA would like to make an exception for Karun, that's their business, not mine," Mallya said.
"I told Karun clearly that he needs to win some GP 2 races and give me the confidence that he is upto the mark. But if he doesn't achieve thathe tells me his GP2 car is not good enoughhe has to go through the simulator and prove how good he is with the F1 car," he added.
Mallya has offered Karun to prove his F1 mettle in the driver simulator.
Incidentally, Karun himself did not seem too happy with the simulator offer and said it was more of a glorious toy.
Mallya took strong offence to this suggestion.
"The simulator is not some kind of toy, as some people tried to make people believe. Even commercial pilots use simulator before getting their licence to fly a plane. This is a misinterpretation that I'm offering him just the simulator and not the car.
"This is the same simulator used by drivers like Lewis Hamilton, Adrian Sutil and Vitantonio Liuzzi," he pointed out.
Sutil also shed some light on the simulator and said it has done a world of good to him.
"It's very reliable and you feel exactly the same. It definitely gives you a clear view of the driver, how good he is.
"Tonio (Liuzzi) did a lot of practice with the simulator and that's why he looked so experienced in Monza even though it was his first race in nearly two years. This simulator is clearly an advantage," Sutil said.