Karun Chandhok, Goodwood Festival of Speed, 2011

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

InterviewPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

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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