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Rediff.com  » Sports » Having Indian driver at Force India would be negative step: F1 chief

Having Indian driver at Force India would be negative step: F1 chief

May 20, 2010 21:21 IST

Having an Indian driver in Force India just for the sake of it would have been counter-productive for the Silverstone-based outfit, said Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone.

Clamour for an Indian driver in the only Indian F1 team grew last year with Karun Chandhok's name forwarded by some quarters but Force India chairman Vijay Mallya maintained he would do what is best for the team, even if it meant having foreign drivers.

Mallya subsequently retained both Adrian Sutil and Vitantonio Liuzzi while Chandhok joined rookie team Hispania for the 2010 season.

Ecclestone reckoned having an Indian driver just for the sake of it would have affected Force India's performance.

"...(it) would be extremely negative. In this case Vijay would have achieved the exact opposite of what he wanted to," the F1 boss told the offical Formula One website.

"To choose an Indian driver who just runs after all the others is no use to anybody. It would be counterproductive," said the 79-year-old Formula One Management chief, who is close to the Chandhok family.

Mallya, on his part, said that he too would like to have an Indian driver but hardly has any option.

"I would love it. I'm not a fool and can see the enormous publicity potential which would come from it," Mallya said.

"The downside at the moment is that there is not one Indian pilot who has the potential to battle the best on the track," said Mallya, also the Force India team principal.

Since its quiet 2008 transition, Force India in fact bettered it's promise of points in 2008 and in fact had the distinction of a podium finish when Giancarlo Fisichella came second in the Belgian Grand Prix.

This year, Force India is going steady at the sixth place in the constructor's championship, trailing the Big Four and Renault.

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