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Force India to consider Chandok and Jani for testing role 14 Sep 2009

Dr. Vijay Mallya (IND) Force India F1 Team Owner (second from left) with Karun Chandhok (IND) Ocean Racing Technology (far right). Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Italian Grand Prix, Race, Monza, Italy, Sunday 13 September 2009. Neel Jani (SUI) Scuderia Toro Rosso Third Driver. Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Japanese Grand Prix, Practice Day Suzuka, Japan, 6 October 2006.

Force India plan to use McLaren’s Formula One simulator to evaluate Indian driver Karun Chandok and ex-F1 tester Neel Jani, as they ponder their 2010 line-up. With Vitantonio Liuzzi promoted to a race seat alongside Adrian Sutil after Giancarlo Fisichella’s departure, the team have a potential testing vacancy next season.

Chennai-born Chandok, 25, is currently racing in the GP2 Series and has long been touted as one of the favourites to become India’s next F1 driver after testing with Red Bull in 2007. Swiss national Jani, whose father is Indian, has Formula One testing experience with Sauber, Red Bull and Toro Rosso and has since raced with some success in series including Champ Cars and A1GP.

"Karun is like a son to me,” Force India boss Vijay Mallya told Reuters. “I have known him from when he was a little boy in shorts. If I can give him a chance, I'd be delighted. But he has to prove that he is also capable. So I've told him I'll put him in the McLaren driver simulator and let me see what you do. And based on that we'll talk further."

Mallya, whose team are Mercedes powered and benefit from a unique technical partnership with McLaren, hinted that he is unlikely to change his race drivers for next season following Force India’s recent breakthrough results at Spa and Monza.

"They are loyal and hard working,” he said of Sutil and Liuzzi. “They are with the team and part of the team, they are doing their best. Unless I have some compelling reason to change, I ask myself why should I change? As of now I am very happy with what I have and the only role open is a test driver role and we'll see where we go from there."

Force India have gone from backmarkers to frontrunners this season, with Fisichella scoring their first points, podium and pole position in Belgium. On Sunday, Sutil added their first fastest lap as he finished a strong fourth at Monza.