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Chandhok closing on Campos seat

ESPNF1 Staff
February 26, 2010 « Mercedes won't show its hand until Bahrain - Rosberg | »
Karun Chandhok is eyeing a Campos drive in 2010 © Sutton Images

There is increasing speculation that Indian GP2 driver Karun Chandhok will drive for Campos in F1, after new team principal Colin Kolles dropped the biggest hint yet.

In recent weeks Chandhok has been linked to F1 hopefuls Stefan GP as well as Campos due to his large sponsorship package. With Campos now adamant it will make the first race under Jose Maria Carabante's ownership, Chandhok is in the running for a seat alongside Bruno Senna and US F1 driver Jose Maria Lopez.

"We are close to finalising a deal with him," Kolles told India's Business Standard Motoring. "However, we will be in a better position to comment on this over the next few days."

Chandhok's father Vicky told the Times of India: "Right now, we can't say anything." But the Hindustan Times reports that a contract has been signed and an announcement will be made very soon, once Chandhok provides Campos with a bank guarantee. It is understood his funding is coming from JK Tyres and Punj Lloyd, an Indian engineering company

Senna remains a front runner for a place at the team, after he signed a contract with it when it was under Adrian Campos' ownership. However, Kolles cast doubt over Senna's seat when he refused to confirm his position, saying a driver announcement would be made "soon".

Nevertheless, Senna's manager Chris Goodwin told BBC Sport: "There's no reason to think Bruno won't be part of it. It's clear as far as we're concerned. He signed a contract in October and he'll be in the car this season."

This would appear to leave Lopez without a seat despite him having a rumoured US$7 million worth of sponsorship backing. His US F1 team looks to be on the brink of collapse and the latest rumours suggest that the FIA is about to take back its official entry after inspecting the team's factory this week.

That would free up the thirteenth grid slot for Stefan GP, but the process may not be as simple as that. USF1, Campos, Virgin and later Lotus were granted their entries after a process of application and due diligence performed by the FIA, and with just two weeks until Friday practice begins in Bahrain, granting Stefan GP an entry for 2010 would have to be fast-tracked. This would likely cause complaints from the teams initially turned down by the FIA, some of which have threatened legal action over the initial process.

Zoran Stefanovic has said he is expecting a decision from the FIA by next Wednesday at the latest, as he will need at least a week to send all his equipment and cars to the first race.