He comes up with new Twitter updates on an everyday basis and posts pictures of car parades and pit garages, social dinners with teammates and gatherings. He wanted to be a racing driver even as a four-year-old kid, when his mother would click pictures of him reading Autocar, his favourite magazine (he keeps the picture on his Blackberry phone as a memory). He is India’s sole representative at motor sport’s highest stage, Formula One. Karun Chandhok talks of life inside and outside the paddock, his favourite driver, and much more. Excerpts:
How frustrating is it to be stuck at the back of the grid?
Hispania Racing Team (HRT) is a small outfit with limited resources. So we have very low expectations. It is frustrating to be a backmarker, but we just have to do what we can and make the best use of the car available.
How has your run in F1 been so far?
It’s been enjoyable, though busy. Since the season started, I have slept in my own bed for maybe just 10 days! We have engineering meetings three times a day, plus training and working with the team takes up a lot of time. We had a delayed start. The car wasn’t ready when we reached Bahrain and yet we made it to the grid. But my aim is very different from that of the team’s. I have to do the best job I can with the car and establish myself at this level. I am hoping to be here in Delhi for the race next year. But it was a very special moment when I saw the HRT car with my name on it for the first time.
It made me believe that I was a Formula One driver finally. It was two weeks before I was officially announced as an HRT driver. So it was hard containing my enthusiasm. Only my parents and some friends knew about it. Even my grandparents were unaware.
Do you think the Indian GP is on course for 2011?
From what I know, everything is progressing smoothly and the track is actually ahead of schedule. I will visit the track at Noida along with the developers. Hermen Tilke, the track designer, is very happy with its progress.
What’s with the constant Twitter updates?
Coming from a country like India where motor sport is relatively young, I see myself as an ambassador for the sport. I tweet a lot, post pictures of car parades and what the pit garage looks like, post videos on YouTube. It helps the fans get an insight into things they can’t generally watch on television. As a F1 driver, it is easy to live inside a bubble. I stay in the public eye, and it helps if the fans can also see me as a normal guy.
Any upgrades to make the HRT more competitive?
We need downforce. That’s the biggest deficit right now. Also, there could be some upgrades on the suspensions and the consistency of the car. It could happen in the second part of the season.