He’s not sure if he will be driving in the Indian F1 race come October, but Karun Chandhok is far easier in the head than he has been for the last few years. His F1 future, he believes, is secure. The reserve driver place in Team Lotus, he says, has not cost him anything.
“The big picture is so much better now. I am strongly involved in the development of the car and have been out there for four Fridays (pre-race practice) now. Before the end of the season, I will be driving five to six Fridays. For 2012, I am looking at a potential full-time race seat,” says the second Indian entrant to Formula 1. Apart from that limited track time, he uses the team’s simulator and kart to stay sharp.
On the sidelines of the third round of the JK Tyre National Racing Championship, Chandhok is looking wistfully at the cars zipping by.
“The worst part is that for me the buzz peaks on Friday. It is painful to go to the pits on Saturday and Sunday when everybody else is getting suited up. I prefer to sit in the engineering truck and analyze the data coming in.”
It is tough to believe that Chandhok joined the Lotus team without asking for an assured seat for the Indian GP. “There’s no deal,” he says. “It’s just another wrong perception like the belief that I paid to get into Lotus.”
Lotus team owner Tony Fernandes, says Chandhok, is eager to build an Asian team. But, apparently, that does not guarantee him a drive in India.
“It all depends on the way I handle the car in Friday practice. That’s a big internal assessment for the team. I also want to be on the grid after earning the respect of the team engineers and not just because I am Indian.”
The writer’s trip has been sponsored by JK Tyres