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Karun Chandok hopeful of racing in FI in 2009

The Chennai born racer, was keen to finish in the top five of the GP2 Championship in 2008, which he hopes would help him secure an F1 seat in 2009.

india Updated: Dec 16, 2007 21:30 IST

With a majority of driver contracts set to expire at the end of next season in Formula One, India's Karun Chandok is extremely hopeful of racing in motorsport's premier competition in 2009.

My chances are looking a lot better now than one or two years ago," 23-year-old Chandok, only the second Indian to test for an F1 team, told reporters here today.

The Chennai born racer, however, was keen to finish in the top five of the GP2 Championship in 2008, which he hopes would help him secure an F1 seat in 2009.

"The most important thing is to have a good year in GP2 and finish in the top five of the Championship. There will be a good opportunity at Forumla One because a lot of contracts are expiring at the end of the next season," he said.

When asked about the possibility of him signing with Vijay Mallya's Force India team, he said, "As far as Force India goes, Mallya has been very clear that the driver choice will be based on credibility than nationality and I cent per cent agree with him."

The Indian, who won the sprint race in Belgium this year, said GP2 was a good training ground for F1 hopefuls.

"Generally the GP2 series is a great platform because we race on Saturdays after F1 qualifying and we race on Sunday mornings before the F1 race. All the F1 people are there watching it ...You go to the paddock afterwards and they have seen everything. They are watching the races. They know everything. It is a good place to establish ourselves."

On his F-1 testing for Red Bull in November, Chandok said he had scored in every weekend in GP2 which helped him in getting a test drive at Red Bull.

"They were really very surprised. They said if I got within one second of David Coulthard, they will be very happy. I got within seven-tenths of his time!," he said.

Tipped to be the next F-1 driver from India by Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone, Chandok said testing for Red Bull was a fantastic experience.

"I learnt a lot of things, it was a fantastic experience. There wasn't much of a difference between F1 and GP2. But an F1 car has a little bit more power, brakes a little better. But it wasn't something that it scared me at all. The big difference, however, was the aerodynamics...Significant difference from GP2," he said.

Asked if entering the F1 circuit at an early age was an advantage, he said, "it does give you a longer career span. When an F1 team is looking to sign you on, they look to see if you have the capability of having a 12-13 year career span."

"(Michael) Schumacher entered when he was 24 or 25. He had given himself a 12-13 yr of a career span. That is why being around 25 years of age is where the window is, to really have a good 10-12 career span in F-1," Chandok said.

On what it felt like to test for a F-1 team when Michael Schumacher was also testing, he said, "I did not even think about it. You just do not have the time to sit and think about it. I spent a lot of time with David Coulthard and Mark Webber. Any questions that I asked, they were very frank and honest," he said.

Earlier, Amara Raja Batteries' corporate sporting initiative, Amaron Pro Racing unveiled the new brand logo naming Karun Chandok as "Madras Missile."

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