One of the fastest men behind the wheel in India, racing driver Karun Chandhok confesses he took up the sport because ‘it was a family thing’. “My granddad used to race, and so did my father. You can call it our family business — that’s something that people identify with in our country,” he laughs.
Ask him if Force India’s recent performance is a matter of pride for India and he starts off, “It’s an achievement for the team. But then, apart from Vijay [Mallya] himself, there’s no Indian face in that team. So people feel it’s a commercial enterprise. By having an Indian driver; it can make more of an Indian team. People connect more with an individual rather than an entity — like there are more Lewis Hamilton fans than McLaren fans.”
That said, Chandhok, who was in Delhi for a Clasus event, does admit he would love to be a part of the team. “Vijay is a friend. I’d love to join them. And it’ll be good for the country — an Indian driver in an Indian team, especially with the Indian grand prix coming up in 2011.” And what about the Sports Ministry not granting F1 a ‘sport’ status? “It’s the opinion of one man in one government. The rest of the world believes otherwise.”