Exclusive: An Interview with Karun Chandhok


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About Karun Chandhok

Karun has excelled in every form of racing that he has contested in, starting by becoming the youngest Indian National Racing Champion in 2000. He achieved the impossible by not only being on pole position in all the 10 races but setting the fastest lap in every race as well, which is still a national record. He followed it up in 2001 by winning the opening 5 races of the season and a record 8 races to become the youngest Asian Formula Champion. He also tested with British Formula 3 champion team Carlin Motorsport at the end of the year.

The next 3 years saw Karun become a regular front runner in possibly the most competitive series in motorsport, the British Formula Three series; In his first year Karun finished 6th in the British Formula 3 National class with 6 top 3 finishes in the year. He followed it up by finishing an impressive 3rd in the British Formula 3 National class winning 8 races and scoring 19 podium finishes in 24 races with T-Sport. In 2004, Karun was a regular front runner in the British Formula 3 with T-Sport and was instantly a top 5 qualifier and finisher. He rounded off the year by partnering compatriot Narain Karthikeyan in the ‘World Series by Nissan’ for the final two rounds of the year.

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The following year Karun was chosen to represent India in the inaugural A1 GP, a series where competitors represent their nation, rather than a private team which is the normally the case in racing. Karun also had the distinction of being the captain of Team India at the renowned ‘Dubai 24hr’ Kart race.

In 2006, Karun became the winner of the first ever Asian Formula Renault V6 Championship in dominating fashion by winning 7 out of 12 races, setting more records along the way. In 2007, Karun joined the GP2 series, the official support series for Formula One Championship, with Durango Racing. In probably the best win of his career, Karun sent a strong message to the motorsport world by winning the Belgian GP at the historic Spa-Francorrchamps circuit, resulting in the Indian National Anthem being played for the very first time at a Formula One Grand Prix event. Having caught the eye of leading Formula One teams, the dream became a reality when the Red Bull Racing team invited Karun to test their Formula One car in late 2007. Driving a Formula One car is the ultimate goal of any racing driver, which Karun managed to achieve at the age of just 24, becoming the youngest Indian to do so.

Karun continued to contest the GP2 Championship in 2008 with iSport International, partnering Bruno Senna. Karun added to his win tally at the German Grand Prix in the same year, together with podium finishes at the likes of Silverstone and Monaco. In the 2009 GP2 series, Karun joined newcomers Ocean Racing Technology and was enroute to winning the prestigious Monaco Grand Prix when a mechanical problem forced him to retire from the lead with 5 laps to go.

He has consistently proven to be the most successful Indian driver and has the distinction of being the only Indian driver to win 3 Championships, over 35 races, and start from the front row of the starting grid on over 25 occasions. While he has set the tone for motorsport in India, it is hard to believe that this youngster from Chennai has managed to achieve all this at the age of 26.
 
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The Interview - Part 1

What do you think about Amaron Karting Challenge?

Amaron Karting Challenge is the only event across the world which provides an excellent platform to these kids. At the time we started our career, we had no such platforms to groom us. But, now with companies like Amaron getting serious about Motorsports in India, we are sure India will be next to Europe in Motorsports in next few years.

What is the next step for these kids on grid?

All these kids who won here will be trained by Amaron & will be assisted in each & every move they make. There will be a final race at Hyderabad, which decides the top 3 drivers across the country. I am sure these kids can make it big very soon.


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Can these kids move to Formula One?

Hmmm.. F1 is at the top, before getting into F1, we have lot of races like Rotax & many more. One has to eventually perform well & never give up under any situations to be on top. These kids have to qualify at National level like JK events & then move on to international events.


Does getting into Formula One require huge capital?

Yeah, Formula One requires a heavy capital & it’s not like any other sport. But now thing have changed with people like Amaron & Jk who has brought the events to masses. And Force India being an Indian Team at Formula One, I think F1 is moving onto Masses now.


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Who will be the sponsor once the final contender is out of AKC?

Amaron will guide the winners & support them in every move & decision they make. It’s a huge process & it definitely take years from now on to make it to international events. Winning racers will definitely bring in sponsors.
 
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The Interview - Part 2

How to make Formula One more popular or the sport of masses like cricket?

Formula One is not a sport like cricket where everyone of us have played outside their homes, This sport needs huge capital, extensive trainings, people, mechanics, media & lot more to grow. But now, things have changed & there is almost 200% rise in viewership of Formula One in last 3 Years. It’s in the hands of everyone to make the sport more popular.


You started with karting & have seen almost all classes of racing, How does it differ from Formula One?

Yeah.. Smile... Formula is like on the top, best of all. It’s really competitive, best cars, best tracks, best drivers on earth. You absolutely have lot of things in Formula One & it’s entirely different.


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How is our Indian Grand Prix Circuit?

Indian Grand Prix is shaping up very well. I have a made a visit before 2 weeks & I could see tremendous progress.


Did you drive on Indian GP Circuit?

Yeah. I made some 4 laps in the circuit & it is one of the best track.


Will Indian GP the toughest of all tracks in Formula One?

Hmm.. We can't definitely tell a single track to be the toughest. Every track has its own specialties and Indian GP's highlight will be the elevations. You have lot of uphills & downhills. It will be really interesting for the spectators to watch & one can witness at least 3 to 4 corners easily in any Grand Stand unlike any other circuits.

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When is it completing?

Basic design if track is already completed. Asphalt has not been laid yet. We are looking forward to see it on hands with in July 2011.


What’s on card next year?

My contract with Hispania Racing Team is getting over by 23rd December 2010. I haven't signed any deals yet. I am looking forward for something good.


What is that you are looking for in next 3 years?

Hmm.. Right now I am not looking myself to race for a smaller team, rather I would be happy if I get a contract for test driver with a bigger team. That makes more sense to me & you will definitely have a greater car & you can improve yourselves a lot.


Will you race for Force India?

No, not definitely in this year. I don’t see myself with Force India anytime in 2011, But I will be racing in Indian Grand Prix this Year.



You are hearing all these at the only automotive community The Automotive India.

Stay tuned for more exclusive updates from us.
 
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Amaron karting Challenge Pictures

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Complete Report of Amaron Karting Challenege here.

Interview Credits

  • Interview & Report : Zinam

  • Photography : Zinam & Cooldhaya
(C) The Automotive India. All rights reserved. Our content such as Interviews, Reviews, Images etc. can not be reproduced in any form without written permission of our authority.
 
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Good job Zinam , am surprised that you have had this all in your mind without even taking notes!


And guys Karun Chandok asked the web address of our forum![clap]
 
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Thanks Mitul & Dhaya!!

Yeah.. I am not interested to take notes from my school time.
 

350Z

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First, Let me congratulate for such a fantastic interview with India’s renowned F1 racing driver – Karun Chandhok. To be true, I rarely watch Formula1 or NASCAR races, but what has always interested me more is rather to be a part of them. After a little research, I understood that, what primarily matters in participating on high-level championships is not only the love for cars, but a keen enthusiasm and passion for them, also of course some serious skills too, and add to that a financially fit background. However, like Karun stated that, even though at a slow pace, the trend of motor sports in our country is eventually picking up, and the day is not very far when we will have more such talented racers coming up to represent India on international level. Personally, I appreciate this unique initiative by Amaron to highlight the young talent.

Drive Safe,
350Z
 
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