Karun Chandhok admits that he is disappointed by Team Lotus' surprise decision not to let him race in the inaugural Indian Grand Prix.
The 27-year-old was widely expected to take Jarno Trulli's seat and had run in Friday morning practice eight times this year, as well as competing in the German Grand Prix, in preparation. Chandhok is a high-profile figure in India and although he is still set to run during Friday practice, his absence from the grid is a setback for the race.
"I'm obviously disappointed that I won't be on the grid for the first Indian Grand Prix," Chandhok told AUTOSPORT. "Everyone knows the most important and emotional race for any driver is their home race and particularly so in my case.
"I've been involved with the project since the track was an empty piece of land. There's such a buzz in India at the moment – I've done 28 interviews in the last two days."
The team has decided not to run Chandhok because it is in a close battle for 10th in the Constructors' Championship with HRT and Marussia Virgin. It was felt that Trulli's experience was the safer bet despite the Italian having endured a tough season.
Chandhok is hopeful that he can continue with the team in the long-term and that he could have opportunities to race in the future after showing improving form during recent Friday outings.
"I'm sure it's been a tough call for Tony [Fernandes, team principal] to make and on some level I think he's feeling some pain about it as we've always had a good personal relationship," said Chandhok. "I joined this team mainly because of him and his faith in me while looking at the long term. I continue to hope that this long-term plan bears fruit and I hope that one day I get to race for him again."
"The team has opted to go for experience at this time but I will go to the paddock in Delhi with my head held high because I feel I did everything possible in and out of the car especially over the last three months to show Tony that I can be in F1 in the longer term."
Although Chandhok's absence from the grid is a major setback for the inaugural Indian Grand Prix, he is hopeful that the race will be a success and that the fans who bought tickets in the hope of seeing him compete will still enjoy it.
"I'm so proud to support the Jaypee Group in this historic weekend for Indian sport," said Chandhok. "For all the fans, including the hundreds from my home town in Chennai who have bought tickets in the hope of seeing me race and are traveling long distances to Delhi, I hope that they all still have a wonderful time at the BIC."