Chandhok: Indian track “will be ready, there’s no doubt”

Interview

Karun Chandhok, Goodwood Festival of Speed, 2011

Karun Chandhok, Goodwood Festival of Speed, 2011

Karun Chandhok believes the Indian Grand Prix circuit will be ready on time.

The FIA tried to postpone the race to by two months but later restored it to its original date at the end of October.

Nonetheless Chandhok, who is an advisor and ambassador for the project, expects them to avoid a repeat of the problems suffered by last year’s Korean Grand Prix organisers.

Speaking to F1 Fanatic he said: “It’s an enormous project, especially for somebody who’s never done a race track before and especially for someone who’s doing it privately. It’s not a government project, unlike every other country apart from Silverstone.

“So it’s a big job for them, there’s a lot to take on. It will be ready, that’s there’s no doubt. It’s going to be tough but they’re going to be ready.”

Chandhok has already driven the circuit to give the organisers feedback and will do so again soon: “I’ll be back again driving in August.

“I’m a brand ambassador for the circuit, I’m also a consultant for the project so I’ll drive around just to iron out any bumps.

“The last time we drove it there was some bumps on the circuit, some bits off-line and on-line, some of the joints weren’t great. There’s a lot of input I’m trying to give them to just help as much as I can because I’d like to see the Grand Prix go well.”

He expects the Buddh International Circuit to be considered an improvement over some of the new venues which have been added to the calendar recently:

“This one’s going to be good because they’ve taken recommendations – I was told Michael Schumacher came up with along with Charlie Whiting to make the circuit.

“It’s 21m in width on the entry to three of the corners so you’ve got a wide entry. On the opening lap of the race you could have six cars going six-wide on a 1.2km straight into turn four. It’s going to be manic!”

“Your site’s called F1 Fanatic, you’re as hooked as I am!”

Karun Chandhok, Lotus T127 (2010), Goodwood Festival of Speed, 2011

Karun Chandhok, Lotus T127 (2010), Goodwood Festival of Speed, 2011

Chandhok described how he became hooked on F1 despite there being little coverage of the sport in his home country:

“F1 in India was very small. It’s still relatively small compared to other sports – cricket, for example.

“But I’m an old-school fan of the sport. I enjoy motor sport across the board, particularly Formula 1.

“From a very young age I knew I wanted to be a Formula 1 driver. My dad used to race, my granddad used to race so it was sort of in the family. They never really pushed us but it’s sort of what I ended up doing.

“F1 wasn’t televised until 1993. A friend of mine from the UK would send us VHS tapes of all the races and I’d watch it. We’d subscribe to magazines and read all about it and you just get hooked.

“It is a drug, this business, isn’t it? Your website’s called F1 Fanatic so you’re as hooked as I am! I really enjoy every aspect of the sport, I’m a true fan.”

Chandhok said he will be making more appearances on Fridays this year but is not sure whether it might lead to a competitive outing: “I’m going to be doing loads more, starting at Silverstone, I’ll be doing six or seven more.

“Beyond Friday morning, you’ll have to speak to Tony [Fernandes]!”

“Who are we to say what’s right and wrong?”

He added the changes to the sport this year was helping to attract new viewers.

He admitted he wasn’t a fan of DRS “from a purist point of view”, but said: “From a racing point of view it’s fantastic.

“At the end of the day, yes, I am a purist. But if you look at the big picture – for example, look at my mum. She’s not a massive F1 fan, she watched it because her son is a racing driver and she’ll watch maybe six or seven races a year.

“Or my hairdresser will watch it occasionally – my hairdresser said to me ‘that was a really good race in Barcelona, I haven’t seen that before’.

“I said to her, ‘do you know what DRS is?’ ‘No, haven’t a clue’. ‘Do you know what tyres we’ve got?’ ‘Yeah, they’re Pirellis aren’t they? But I don’t know what’s the big difference’.”

“And that is our consumer base. That is our target audience. If they don’t care, they don’t know, then as purists, who are we to say what’s right and what’s wrong?

“That’s the audience we’re trying to get, and we are getting them excited about F1. So I think that’s right.”

“I had more fun last year”

Karun Chandhok, Williams-Cosworth FW08

Karun Chandhok, Williams-Cosworth FW08

Chandhok was speaking at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, where he drove a 2010 Lotus T127 up the hill.

But he said He wanted to drive something older: “I had more fun last year!

“The cars we have today, they’re nice on a track, they’re fantastic to drive on a race track.

“But on a short run like this you don’t have a lot of tyre temperature, you don’t have brake temperature, we don’t have [tyre] blankets or anything like that. So it’s not really a place to push, you’re just doing burnouts and making a bit of noise and having some fun for the crowd.

“But last year with the ’82 car – the Williams, Keke Rosberg’s championship-winning car – I did start to push, it was magic.

“And I would like to come back and drive cars from the eighties. I think that’s the charm of Goodwood. I wouldn’t want to race the, because I think they’re bloody dangerous, but I think the charm of Goodwood, the magic and spirit of it is going back in time.

“This morning I spent half an hour just sitting in a Penske from 1994. I had goosebumps! It’s just so special to see these cars here and meet the drivers.”

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52 comments on Chandhok: Indian track “will be ready, there’s no doubt”

  1. Prisoner Monkeys said on 5th July 2011, 11:42

    There was doubt about Buddh International? From who? And why?

    The Yeongam circuit in South Korea was built by a different firm to the circuit in India, so that’s not a problem. And the construction of Buddh International is a private venture, unlike the Commonwealth Games venues. It’s all being overseen by the construction arm of Tilke GmbH, and when was the last time they failed to deliver a project on time?

    • Mike said on 5th July 2011, 15:26

      From people… Who may have noticed India’s scratchy record recently for having large constructions completed on time… That’s my quess.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 5th July 2011, 19:49

      The people back in India would probably not have minded a bit extra time.
      I don’t think there are any serious reasons to believe they won’t be ready in time. I saw loads of pictures and the tarmac is already there, save top layer months earlier than Korea started doing that.

      But I am sure you remember the discussions about this subject with a lot of people talking about India not being in time.

  2. “Or my hairdresser will watch it occasionally – my hairdresser said to me ‘that was a really good race in Barcelona, I haven’t seen that before’.

    “I said to her, ‘do you know what DRS is?’ ‘No, haven’t a clue’. ‘Do you know what tyres we’ve got?’ ‘Yeah, they’re Pirellis aren’t they? But I don’t know what’s the big difference’.”

    “And that is our consumer base. That is our target audience. If they don’t care, they don’t know, then as purists, who are we to say what’s right and what’s wrong?

    I couldn’t disagree with this more.

    How can your customer/fan base be someone who only occasionally watches the thing you’re doing? and not know at least what the basic ins and outs of the sport are. I wouldn’t expect them to be able to name every Champion ever (I know I couldn’t), or be able to recite all the corner names of Imola, but I would expect them to be able to explain a rather large talking point regarding one of the current season’s rules.

    Why is F1 constantly trying to bring in new people who really couldn’t care less? F1 is one of the most watched sports in the world, and I’m sure it gains plenty of new fans each year through genuine channels such as a new found interest in motorsport, cars in general, a kid watching the race because a parent or friend does, or just happening upon a TV broadcast, website, or playing a video game.

    These people will end up watching every race, reading around the subject, and becoming life long fans that don’t need to hear DC or Martin Brundle saying each race “for those of you who are new to the sport, the tyres are those black things on each corner of the car”

    Why does F1 need to appeal to hairdressers who feel like watching occasionally? who probably wouldn’t know carbon fibre if their scissors were made from it.

    • zecks said on 5th July 2011, 12:12

      ajokay i think you have forgotten what it was like when you watched as a kid. You, like everyone else, were not born a fan so it has to be accessible. If the race commentary does not appeal to the widest audience it will lose viewers and then go to sky (an absolute travesty) Be honest, the forums and events like goodwood are enough for the die hards like us.

      • Nope, I haven’t forgotten, I remember it very well.

        I saw one race during what was probably 1992 at my Grandparents. Didn’t think anything more of it.

        My interest in cars grew over the next couple of years, and then I realised They could go fast, and race against each other. I saw a few more races in 1994, and since 1995 I’ve watched near enough every single race. I didn’t need luring in with gimmics, explanations of everything every 5 minutes, and whatever else.

        It interested me, so I went out there and found out what I wanted to know, I read Autosport, I took a great interest in the shapes and colours of the cars, and would often draw them. I played the video games, I got the Scalextric.

        I was not born a fan, but it was accessible enough to introduce itself to me, and I went out and did the rest. Thats what real fans are and what real fans do. They don’t need to be drip fed everything just so they can watch a few races a year.

        • Gerdoner said on 5th July 2011, 12:51

          I gotta say I agree with ajokay here.
          The guys of Radio Le Mans made a very good point on this topic a few weeks ago. They were discussing BBC’s race coverage and argued that they explain the rules every single time (and I might add, so does Speed and RTL, 2 channels I regulary watch).
          Think about it: when did you hear the last time “Welcome to the FIFA World Cup Final, now, for those who watch the first time, here are the rules:…” OK, so football is a major sport and you normally pick up the rules very early when you are living in Europe, but I doubt that it was because of a 1-hour-special program you watched before the start of a new season – you just learned the rules by watching or playing it.
          In Formula 1 broadcasts however, there is always a “what’s new this season” segment at the start of the year… which is totally fine by me, but it really gets on my nerves when Brundle and co. explain what DRS is and why it can be deployed when we are in the middle of the season. If you watched regulary you would have picked up that information a long time ago. If you just happen to watch the GP because there’s nothing else on TV or you just started having interest in it, DRS isn’t exactly rocket science and you should “get” it after the 1st race

        • unocv12 said on 5th July 2011, 12:52

          Quite simply ajokay’s quoted ocmment is unfortunately correct.

          If you acre about F1 you will watch it no matter what. If you don’t you wont watch it unelss it is suddenly exciting for you.

          The average F1 Fanatic will watch F1 unless it gets massive doses of stupidity. You are a guarenteed consumer and as such your vote counts for nothing. Sure you might walk away sure sure, but you probably wont any time soon and as such it doesn’t matter what you think, you and your purist friends because you will watch it no matter what.

          But as for the people who rarely watch, their votes count. If they tune it then more people watch, if they don’t then only then purists watch.

          And so unfortunately the rules and everything is pushed towards the idiot end of the range because of the people who care about F1 and watch over multiple seasons are there non the less. Its the people who wont otherwise watch that count.

          And that is why it is sad. Also thigs like the fan forum and such on bbc are toned down. Some may want to see Brundle and Coulthard go on about brake balances for teh corners and how the different cambers and rake angles combiend with the corners can alter the amount of mech grip between cars on certain corners creating bigger and smaller gaps for overtaking… but most would be bored and no one would allow a program to run if it can be watch by more… and by that I mean ‘better’…. unfortunately

          • Mike said on 5th July 2011, 15:30

            Bingo.

            Sadly the real techy stuff, sadly, just doesn’t interest most people, even some true fanatics. And as such remains the domain of the docco.

          • hohum said on 5th July 2011, 16:25

            Sort of like life actually, everything pushed toward the idiot end of the range.

          • “who are we to say what’s right and what’s wrong?”

            Well, I’d say that the people who participate and closely follow a sport are better placed to say what’s right and wrong than, say, some random-a** hairdresser in India somewhere.

            Your argument is that it’s the least knowledgeable people who should be deciding on the future of the sport? Sorry, but that’s flat out ********.

            And to unocv12, who wrote:

            “If you acre about F1 you will watch it no matter what.”

            Nope. I do care a great deal about F1 – and that’s why I’m not watching. Whatever they’re doing on the track now, it’s not F1. I’m interested only in the drivers and in the politics, since I (most likely foolishly) hold out hope that the sport can be returned to the people who create and love it, rather than to random bar patrons who came for the football but oh hey whatever there are some cars and ooh, that one went by the other one really fast!

            Seriously – how blinkered do you have to be to act like the people who care the least about something should have the most influence?

            Do you get a bunch of tea-cozy-knitting pensioner ladies to design your public highway system? Do you ask the permission of marine biologists for changes to your military strategy? Do SUV manufacturers solicit design ideas from environmentalists in order to better appeal to them?

            No? Then why in God’s name would you let those who don’t give a rat’s a** about F1 dictate its regulations?!

    • Fixy (@fixy) said on 5th July 2011, 12:40

      I’m with you on this. In brief, they are going against what fans want so people who don’t care can watch a race or two.

      ‘that was a really good race in Barcelona’

      But not all the races have to be good. Barcelona is known for little overtakes – the track’s fault. The track should be changed, not the rules so that overtaking can be done anywhere.
      People who are not F1 fans (almost all of my class mates) like seeing spectacular crashes – should be make cardboard cars so they can watch more races?

      • NomadIndian said on 6th July 2011, 6:59

        @Perisoft above,

        Because to survive and be financially stable, F1 NEEDS all those other people (who do not know much about F1 and do not care for the technical details), to tune in and become viewers and spectators.
        Don’t think the examples you gave are relevant.

        • If F1 caters to people who don’t give a damn about F1, F1 does *not* survive. It becomes Pop Idol on four wheels.

          F1 managed to survive without any TV audience, without any sponsors… it managed to survive with incredible technical innovation and high costs…

          F1 will not survive if it ceases being F1 through panicked appeal to people whose only care is that it involves cars with wings and four wheels.

    • DavidS (@davids) said on 5th July 2011, 13:22

      Why does it need to appeal to new fans?
      Because more revenue is generated by more interest in the sport, through TV audiences, race attendance, sponsorship of teams etc.

      Money is what keeps the sport alive, without it, teams would be broke and leaving the sport, talented drivers would race elsewhere and the series as a whole would suffer.

      The presentation of the sport has to be accessible to new viewers of the sport, otherwise they wouldn’t become interested in the first place. If you’re an 8 year old kid who has only just started watching F1, how are you going to become interested if the commentators on the TV broadcast deliberately talk in such a way as to exclude you?

      • zecks said on 5th July 2011, 14:41

        thanks for the back up DavidS. I was never suggesting that the coverage was perfect. I just know that we are reliant on the less knowledgable (normal people) for the sport to be a success. The alternative of pay per view sky crap would kill the sport.

        As for those complaining about changes to regulations – without them, the sport would become just another spec series.

      • hohum said on 5th July 2011, 16:29

        Which is why Bernie would like to have a Danica Patrick in the “show”.

        • zecks said on 5th July 2011, 18:07

          well bernie did say “You know, I’ve got one of these wonderful ideas that women should all be dressed in white like all the other domestic appliances.”

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 5th July 2011, 19:50

      Same here.

      And I think its great how much of a wider perspective Chandhok has on F1, not your everyday sportsman quotes these. Very nice interview Keith.

  3. F1 98 said on 5th July 2011, 12:18

    Hope chandhok could race their

  4. GeeMac (@geemac) said on 5th July 2011, 12:31

    I’m always mightily impressed when Karun opens his mouth. he is such a knowledgeable chap and he really does put his thoughts forward in a clear, concise and well thought out way. He is a top geezer!

    • Fixy (@fixy) said on 5th July 2011, 13:54

      He might not be the greatest driver ever, but he is a great fan, more than many famous drivers such as Alonso, who doesn’t “consider F1 a sport anymore”.

    • Joey-Poey (@joey-poey) said on 5th July 2011, 14:01

      I agree. He never won me over on the track, but he’s won me over off of it. I remember last year watching some of the practice session live feeds linked on here in the live blog and hearing Chandok commentate on some of those. I really enjoyed what he had to say and thought he did an excellent job. Not everyone can pick up a mic and start talking about racing as it happens and not look like a fool *coughWillyTRibbscough*. So maybe he has a future in commentary some day down the line?

  5. DavidS (@davids) said on 5th July 2011, 13:25

    I wonder whether Karun visits the site regularly? Wouldn’t it be awesome if he joined in the discussions?

    Maybe he already does, using a pseudonym.

  6. Shomir said on 5th July 2011, 13:40

    For all we know Chandhok could be one of the site’s top posters!

  7. Don M. said on 5th July 2011, 13:58

    KC seems to suggest that you have to sacrifice pure racing to make F1 interesting. If the overtaking problem is addressed properly there’s no reason we can’t have racing that’s both pure and interesting.

  8. Quin10-10 said on 5th July 2011, 14:40

    If Formula One ever becomes appealing to my mom or my hairdresser it will be time for me to get my racing fix elsewhere.

  9. wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 5th July 2011, 15:01

    Chandhok ask your hairdresser to watch Canada 2011.

    • damonsmedley (@damonsmedley) said on 6th July 2011, 13:45

      Interesting you should say that. I wanted to get my brother to watch it, but then I remembered the 2 hour-long stoppage. I wouldn’t really want to skip over that because it added to the tension! :P

  10. Mr. Veloce said on 5th July 2011, 17:50

    I always look forward to an inagural race every year. Inagural races are sometimes the only reason to do with the races on the calender I ever look forward to a season, the other reason being the amount of races on the calender.

  11. MinusTwo said on 5th July 2011, 19:11

    Point of fact, Mr. Chandok – The Canadian GP recieves no government funding, either. Hence why it dissapeared from the 2009 Calendar.

    • And the Canadian GP venue had working toilets and roofs that didn’t collapse…

      That said, I remember when Watkins Glen didn’t have flush toilets – the guys would just go into a (100 degrees hot and full of flies) non-ventilated room with a big trough along one wall, and pi** away. I still have a vivid memory of that, and the light pouring in the open doorway on my left, and hearing the sound of the cars coming up out of the boot ricochet around the room until it felt like it would explode…

      …and then thinking, “Hell, there really isn’t any way to get it back in your pants completely dry, is there?”

      • Prisoner Monkeys said on 6th July 2011, 0:57

        And the Canadian GP venue had working toilets and roofs that didn’t collapse…
        That’s unfair – the Commonwealth Games venues were a public project and were all built by the lowest bidder. The Buddh International Circuit is a private project and is being overseen by Tilke GmbH, who have done each and every new addition to the calendar – Sepang, Shanghai, Bahrain, Valencia, Abu Dhabi, Singapore, Istanbul and South Korea (once the Koreans realised they were in trouble and asked Tilke GmbH for help) – as well as modifications to circuits like the Nurburgring, Hockenheim and Spa. Think what you will of the actual circuits, but the porjects have always been completed on time and none of the infrastructure has collapsed.

        • Sure, but this project as any other in India has to deal with the license raj (diminished though it may be).

          Private project or not, they’re going to be subject to the same rampant government corruption as any other project – just from different angles. It’ll be a bit easier, sure, and maybe they’ll have access to bigger bribes and higher-up bribe-takers, but I’m not holding my breath.

          I wonder if we’ll see any drivers commenting on the starving, impoverished people who will likely be lying a few hundred feet outside the gates, next to piles of burning garbage.

          I bet not – particularly from Mr. Honest Chandhok. The wealthy Indians I’ve spoken to (ranging from the equivalent of American upper-middle-class to monumentally, obscenely wealthy) insist that India doesn’t have a problem with poverty at all, and have acted shocked at the suggestion that there even ARE poor people. This as they’re handed drinks by people who make two bucks a day – but those people, of course, are all but invisible.

          It’s really bizarre, actually.

          (By the way, I’m talking about having spoken to them *in* India, not expats in Europe or the US.)

  12. MinusTwo said on 6th July 2011, 21:25

    Perisoft, I could not disagree more.

    If F1, or any sport period, catered to only the most die-hard of fans, it would die, and quickly.

    It just shows how out out touch with reality you are when you say “F1 survived without TV coverage, without sponsors”… How long ago was that??? No one in their right mind would think that modern F1 can survive without massive doses of both.

    Further, this angry, elitist attitude, that you are a “real” fan, and therefore F1 belongs to you more than the casual viewer is nonsense, and is itself a barrier to getting new people interested in the sport.

    • If “only the most die-hard” fans value things like real racing and real technological development rather than the arcade rules, badly-covered-up spec series that the sport has become, and if decrying the devolution of the sport into the reality TV ‘spectacle’ it’s become, then, well… I guess the fans will get what they deserve.

      I refuse to believe that a passion for remaining true to the most basic ethos of sport – clear, consistent rules that match the history and traditions of the series; top-level technology and speed; an even playing field for all cars rather than an artificial advantage for the slower ones – is elitism. If so, then color me elite, and unapologetically so.

      Your argument is like attacking someone as ‘elite’ for being upset that big front-stage spark explosions and rows of scantily-clad hip hop dancers have been added to the Metropolitan Opera.

      Sure, those things have their place – but not at an opera, and it’s not elitist to say so.

  13. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 6th July 2011, 23:57

    A good little interview. Chandhok always manages to communicate well with the fans and seems extremely grounded. I hope he manages to stay in the Formula 1 circus for years to come.

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