Tag Archives: Karun Chandhok

Mixed results for F1 drivers at 24 Hours of Le Mans

The 24 Hours of Le Mans has concluded today at the Circuit de la Sarthe, with Audi roaring away with 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 5th places.

There were 22 drivers there today who have previously raced in Formula 1. Some finished well up the field with consistent drives, while others were involved in terrifying crashes. Here is the report of the F1 drivers from today’s race:

Brundle & Brundle impress in LMP2

Sky F1 commentator and former F1 driver Martin Brundle, along with his son Alex, competed in the LMP2 (Le Mans Prototype 2) category.

Clocking in an impressive 340 laps overnight, the father-son pairing finished 5th in class, and 15th overall. However, during the race, they were forced to switch to right-foot braking – a first for Alex – after problems began to develop on the car.

Alternator and throttle issues prevented them from battling for a podium finish, but the elder of the two stated he was pleased with his racing return.

Davidson lucky after horrific crash

Further up the field, 2007 Super Aguri driver Anthony Davidson was competing for the overall victory with the resurgent Toyota team. He took control of the #8 car, about 80 laps into the race.

However, a horrific smash with a Ferrari 458 (GTE Pro category) sent Davidson flying into the barriers, and the Toyota out of the race. After being sent to hospital to treat him for shock and back pain, it was confirmed that Davidson had suffered two broken vertebrae in the crash.

However, from watching the replay, you could argue that he is lucky to be alive:

Teammate Sebastien Buemi, a former Toro Rosso driver, drove a fantastic stint to bring the #8 Toyota within 3 seconds of the lead beforehand. Stephane Sarrazin – a once-off driver for Minardi, also drove well in his opening stints.

McNish and Gene throw away vital positions for Audi

2002 Toyota F1 driver Allan McNish has moved on to the Audi Le Mans team, this year racing the #2 R-18 e-tron quattro, a hybrid 4-wheel drive car. He inherited the lead from the #1 car, and was in contention for the race win.

However, when lapping a backmarker, McNish spun out and hit the barriers, losing vital time with repair work:

Amazingly, just minutes beforehand, fellow Audi driver Marc Gene (former Minardi and BMW Williams driver) had clashed with another barrier, this time on one of the Mulsanne chicanes. Earlier in the race, the same car was crashed in the exact same spot by Romain Dumas.

Both cars were repaired, at the same time, by the Audi crew, and sent out within 10 minutes – an incredible performance by the team.

Wurz and Nakajima suffer bad luck at Toyota

Besides Davidson’s crash, the sister Toyota car was in the wars as well.

The #7 car was running second after a safety car restart, with former Williams driver Kazuki Nakajima at the wheel. However, he clashed with the radical Nissan Delta Wing, forcing both cars to undergo extensive repairs.

The Delta Wing was out, while the #7 Toyota never recovered. Benneton and Williams racer Alexander Wurz brought the car out of the pits, but it repeatedly stuttered to a halt.

It was a disappointing end to a promising campaign for the Toyotas, but they’ll be back even stronger next year.

Bruni and Fisichella win GTE Pro category

2004 Minardi driver Gianmaria Bruni and Jordan, Renault and Ferrari driver Giancarlo Fisichella experienced success at this year’s Le Mans.

They won the GTE Pro category in the #51 Ferrari 458. While Fisichella was the one who crashed the car on Friday, forcing the car to start at the back of the grid, he did well to move 3 laps clear of his nearest competitor.

Brabham and Chandhok impress in JRM HPD

David Brabham – son of 3 times world champion Jack Brabham – and Karun Chandhok (2010 HRT racer) finished 6th overall in the LMP1 category.

They were racing for the JRM team. Despite some stalling while Chandhok attempted to leave the pits, the #22 car was brilliantly reliable, and briefly ran ahead of some of the Audi R18s.

Heidfeld splits the Audis with Lola

Nick Heidfeld, who has had a stunted career in F1 to say the least, was driving for the Lola team, and managed to finish ahead of one of the Audi cars.

He was driving with Nicolas Prost (son of Alain Prost) and Neel Jani (Lotus test driver), both of which are aiming for drives in F1 in the future.

With excellent reliability, the trio worked their way up to 4th place overall, and ruined a 1-2-3-4 finish for the Audi team. In fact, had any major problem befallen the top 3 cars, Heidfeld and co. would have finished on the podium!

2011 final driver rankings: 28th – 19th

This will be the complete ranking of each driver in 2011 based on their performances throughout the season. These rankings also contain clippings from previous reviews from 2011 and 2010. Without further delay, here are the first 10 drivers to be examined:

28th – Karun Chandhok

Chandhok had one chance for redemption and failed

Chandhok had one chance for redemption and failed

Previous ranking: 25th (2010 final rankings)

Review from last ranking: He has not been given the car to prove himself in the races.” (2010 half-way review)

The popular Indian driver’s season got off to a miserable start in Melbourne, crashing three turns into his out lap.

He was drafted in for a one-off drive at the Nurburgring, and was completely off the pace, spinning several times and resulting in Chandhok finishing 2 laps behind his teammate.

He made no impact at all during his practice session runs during the season, and his rejected attempt to drive at the Indian Grand Prix was embarrassing to say the least.

27th – Jarno Trulli

Retirement is still knocking on Jarno's door

Retirement is still knocking on Jarno's door

Previous ranking: 23rd

Review from last ranking: “Retirement may not be too far off the horizon for Trulli.”

After another season considerably out-paced by his teammate, its a wonder as to why Caterham will retain Trulli for next season.

Blaming most of his problems on a strange power steering issue, Jarno was still miles off the pace of Heikki Kovalainen after this had been fixed. The former one-lap master was out-qualified 16 times out of 19 this year.

He performed reasonably well in Monaco, but apart from this, it was a truly dismal season for Jarno. After Vitaly Petrov was ousted from his Renault seat, it makes you wonder will the Italian be seen in the paddock in 2012.

26th – Narain Karthikeyan

Karthikeyan impressed in India, but that was about it

Karthikeyan impressed in India, but that was about it

Previous ranking: 24th

Review from last ranking: “With disappointing pace in a lacklustre car, a replacement driver was inevitable.”

Many were very surprised to see Narain return in Australia after a 5-year absence, but that was basically all the impact the Indian had all year.

He was ousted after 8 races, but I was rather impressed with his one-off return at the Indian Grand Prix. Karthikeyan performed reasonably well in a car he had to re-acquaint himself with, and finished ahead of his teammate.

However, this was the only shining moment in a dull and uninspired season for Narain.

25th – Pastor Maldonado

It has been a dreadful debut for Maldonado

It has been a dreadful debut for Maldonado

Previous ranking: 22nd

Review from previous ranking: “If he is unable to turn this form into results, then there will be little future for Maldonado in Formula 1.”

The 2010 GP2 champion has given no reason as to why he deserves to be in Formula 1, relying solely on a substantial paycheck by his fellow Venezuelan backers.

Williams are known to be in trouble financially, and with their decision to float an IPO failing also, they turned to Maldonado to keep the team afloat. He may have done that, but Pastor hasn’t done much else. A single solitary point is all Maldonado has to offer at the end of 2011.

He performed well in Monaco, and was on course for a 6th-placed finish before clashing with Lewis Hamilton. However, he was less friendly with Lewis at Spa, deliberately trying to punt the McLaren off the track.

The last time a driver deliberately crashed in Formula 1, he was disgraced and essentially thrown out of the sport. I wouldn’t have minded if the same happened to Maldonado.

24th – Vitantonio Liuzzi

Liuzzi was well out-performed in the second half of 2011

Liuzzi was well out-performed in the second half of 2011

Previous ranking: 20th

Review from previous ranking: “Vitantonio has done well to demonstrate his prowess in a dismal car.”

In the first half of the season, it appeared as if Liuzzi had driven well, comprehensively beating Karthikeyan and giving HRT their best ever finish in Canada.

But, once Daniel Ricciardo was ordered to replace Karthikeyan, Tonio’s lack of pace was revealed, and his season began to unravel. In the 6 times where both HRTs finished, Liuzzi only beat the rookie twice.

Even when he was in front of Ricciardo, he was never definitively faster than him, and causing a multiple-car crash in Monza was the low point of what could be the last season for Liuzzi.

23rd – Jerome D’Ambrosio

D'Ambrosio has not done badly, but not well enough

D'Ambrosio has not done badly, but not well enough

Previous ranking: 21st

Review from previous ranking: “A first foray into F1 has not gone disastrously just yet for Jerome D’Ambrosio.”

For a rookie, D’Ambrosio was unusually quiet – and that’s not a good thing.

He failed to make a considerable impact at Virgin, but never disgraced himself either. A pair of 14th place finishes kept him ahead of Timo Glock in the drivers’ standings. His worst moment was probably Hungary, where he spun in the pit lane, almost taking his mechanics out with him.

An oddly anonymous debut is not what a rookie driver needs, although I’m still surprised to see him replaced by another rookie. Jerome had the potential to do better, and it’s been disappointing to see him leave F1 so soon.

22nd – Timo Glock

Glock deserves better after 2 lacklustre Virgin cars

Glock deserves better after 2 lacklustre Virgin cars

Previous ranking: 18th

Review from previous ranking: “He has consistently out-qualified D’Ambrosio, and is set to perform better as the season progresses.”

Another season languishing at the back is not what a talented driver like Timo Glock needs to progress his career.

He did his best to prove his worth – particularly in Monaco – but the lack of pace from the MVR-02 held him back.

While Lotus/Caterham continued their ascent to the midfield, all Glock could do was circulate ahead of D’Ambrosio and the HRT cars, and he generally did just that. We all know Timo deserves better, and with a move to a better team out of the question for 2011, next season looks like a similar struggle.

21st – Rubens Barrichello

Not much to talk about for Barrichello

Not much to talk about this year for Barrichello

Previous ranking: 17th

Review from previous ranking: “A horribly uncompetitive Williams is to blame for Barrichello’s slump, but being pushed by underperforming rookie Maldonado does not bode well for Rubens.”

Only two years ago the thought of placing Barrichello this far down the rankings would be unthinkable – the likable Brazilian has retained good pace throughout his 19-season career. However, 2011 was the indicator that Rubens’ career is on its last legs.

Two 9th places in a row was all that Rubens could manage for points. It was still better than teammate Maldonado, but Barrichello doesn’t come with financial backing, and that’s why he is most likely on the way out at Williams.

Uncharacteristic errors, most notably in Australia, marred Rubens’ season. It’s  been a strange few years for the veteran, having experienced the highs of Ferrari and Brawn, contrasting with the lows of Honda and Williams. Unfortunately, I suspect that we may have seen the last of Rubens Barrichello.

20th – Daniel Ricciardo

Ricciardo excelled where others could not

Ricciardo excelled where others could not

Previous ranking: N/A

Review from previous ranking: N/A

Many rookie drivers deliberately avoid joining an F1 team halfway through the season, to avoid being thrown out of the sport mere months later. I highly doubt this will occur to Daniel Ricciardo.

Drafted in at Silverstone, Ricciardo was on the pace from the get-go, and was beating Vitantonio Liuzzi after only 3 races. Red Bull are well known for backing the Australian’s move into F1, and it seems that their decision has been justified.

Daniel made no catastrophic errors, and mixed it with the Virgins and Liuzzi throughout qualifying and the races. Racing for Toro Rosso next season, I feel he can succeed where Buemi and Alguersuari failed.

19th – Pedro de la Rosa

Pedro de la Rosa did what was expected of him

Pedro de la Rosa did what was expected of him

Previous ranking: 19th (2010 final ranking)

Review from previous ranking: “HRT are reported to be looking at the Spaniard for 2011, but despite this, his future is in serious doubt.”

It may have been a year late this time around, but I seem to have developed a knack for predicting De la Rosa’s future moves in these rankings!

Pedro had little to do this year, making a sole appearance in Canada, substituting for the injured Sergio Perez. He performed the job as expected, finishing a rather impressive 12th in difficult circumstances.

Considering he had never driven the Sauber C30 before, praise is certainly deserved for De la Rosa. He will drive for HRT next year, and it will be interesting to see how he performs there. To make an attempt at 3 correct predictions in a row, I believe that he won’t make much impact in such a poor car  - and knowing HRT, he’ll likely get replaced halfway through the year.

Karthikeyan expects to replace Ricciardo for Indian GP

Narain Karthikeyan may be back racing in October

Narain Karthikeyan may be back racing in October

Narain Karthikeyan has said that he expects to be back in the Hispania car for the inaugral Indian Grand Prix in October.

Having returned to the sport after a 6-year absence, Karthikeyan was replaced by Daniel Ricciardo at the half-way marl this year.

However, after facing the media when unveiling tickets for the Grand Prix last Saturday, the Indian driver said that he expects to be racing in front of his home crowd:

"It was always a dream for me to race in Formula 1 and race in front of my home
crowd. And now thanks to the Jaypee Group that dream is going to be a reality."

However, fellow Indian Karun Chandhok is less hopeful of participating in the Grand Prix. While maintaining his belief that he has not paid his way into Lotus (and one-off drive at the German Grand Prix), Chandhok is still doubtful over driving in India:

"I've always maintained that racing in the German GP this year was a one-off. The
team seem to be pleased with my performance at the event so we will see what
happens."

Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that the Buddh International Circuit, which is hosting the Indian Grand Prix, will be inspected by the FIA in mid-September. If the track is approved, the circuit will be open to the media by the end of that month.

Chandhok to replace Trulli for German GP

Chandhok will make his first racing appearance since Silverstone last year

Chandhok will make his first racing appearance since Silverstone last year

Karun Chandhok will take over Jarno Truli’s car for the German Grand Prix, the team confirmed today.

The Indian driver has taken part in 4 practice sessions with the team so far this year. It will be his first race in F1 since the 2010 British Grand Prix.

Trulli has struggled with power steering problems all year in the Lotus. He is due a steering upgrade in Hungary, so many believe that this temporary replacement is simply to allow Trulli to cool off.

Despite losing his seat for one race, team principal Tony Fernandes has confirmed that the team is still in negotiations with Jarno regarding a contract for next year.

Despite this, it is still suspected that Trulli will make way for Chandhok at the inaugral Indian Grand Prix as well.

Chandhok caught in legal battle with HRT

Colin Kolles has also revealed why Chandhok left the team

Colin Kolles has also revealed why Chandhok left the team

After being dropped from the Hispania team from the British Grand Prix onwards last year, Karun Chandhok is now facing a legal battle with his former team.

Team principal Colin Kolles explains that Karun “failed to fulfill the contract”:

"When he signed an agreement with us for the 2010 season, Karun made a lot 
of promises on paper. But, he failed to fulfill his obligations. We waited 
for some time, but we didn’t have any other choice than suspending him at 
the German GP. We, however, did everything diplomatically. We didn’t make it 
public. Since then, Karun was never in the team’s radar."

"His failed promises affected the team’s progress last year. We were 
planning to do certain upgrades on the car, but everything got disturbed."

That explanation sounds vague, and there’s a reason for that. What Kolles didn’t mention was that Chandhok was thrown out because he didn’t pay the team enough money. Before the season began, Karun promised the team (allegedly) €8m, but only paid one installment of €2m.

Presumably, his sponsors must have cut off their deal. When Chandhok was unable to pay up, the team promptly threw him out of the team.

It is uncertain what will happen to Karun now, but losing this legal battle could put his racing career in further jeopardy.

HRT not keeping Senna for 2011

Senna will not be retained for the 2011 season

Senna will not be retained for the 2011 season

Hispania Racing have stated today that Bruno Senna will not be racing for them in 2011.

Narain Karthikeyan was confirmed yesterday as the first driver for the team for this upcoming season, but the second slot has yet to be filled.

Bruno Senna was tipped to remain with HRT, but team principal Colin Kolles has ruled this out:

"I can definitely say that Mr Bruno Senna is not going to race for HRT."

If HRT’s best performing driver from last year won’t be retained, then it’s safe to say that Karun Chandhok is out of luck as well, seeing as both of these two drivers lack sponsorship or backing.

The question now is: Who will take the second seat? It will probably be very difficult to guess, as financial backing may well dictate who gets taken on by Hispania.

Narain Karthikeyan signed by HRT for 2011

Karthikeyan is back in F1 after a 5-year break

Karthikeyan is back in F1 after a 5-year break

Narain Karthikeyan has been announced today as the first driver for Hispania Racing for the 2011 season.

The Indian has previously been racing in F1, having driven for the Jordan team back in 2005. Apart from a couple of 11th-placed finishes, his best drive was to 4th in the 6-car US Grand Prix. He then spent 3 years with Team India in A1 GP, and took part in 2 races in Superleague Formula in 2010.

Interestingly enough, when he was racing for Jordan in 2005, the team principal at the time was Colin Kolles, who happens to be managing HRT to this date.

In an interview with Autocar India, he said:

"I have worked really hard to come back to F1 and it will be a dream come
true to race in front of the home crowd in our country’s debut Grand Prix.
I hope that the Indian public will spur me on with their blessings and good
wishes."

(from Twitter): "Back in F1 in 2011. Signed a deal to race for HRT. I’ve
always maintained that my time in F1 was not over and now making good on
that promise."

However, he also hinted that sponsorship was a factor with his signing:

"Huge thanks to my long-time supporters in the Tata Group. Their support
has been instrumental."

This means that whatever happens to Karun Chandhok, there will be an Indian driver on the grid for the inaugural 2011 Indian Grand Prix. With seats at Force India in short supply, it looks like Chandhok has lost out.

Chandhok drives in Korea, says: “Needs more work”

Despite the speculation recently that Karun Chandhok would be unable to drive the new Korean GP track today, due to construction being behind schedule, he managed to drive 15 laps in a Red Bull F1 car. However, he still stated that the track needs more work before it can be ready for Formula 1.

He drove 15 laps in the Red Bull demonstration car, then 10 in a road car today. This is what he said of the track so far:

"It’s a really interesting layout. The track’s got a good mix of 
corners and I think we’ll see a lot of overtaking in the first 
sector – there are long straights into slow hairpins. The straight 
after turn one and two is really long, so we may see some good 
slip streaming there, like in Shanghai. From turn seven onwards, 
there’s a fast section of flowing corners all the way back to 
the start-finish line – so I think the Red Bull Racing guys 
will be happy in sectors two and three. It’s an interesting 
layout.

Looking at the facilities, the garages and team buildings look 
pretty much finished and they’re big! I think teams will need 
to bring around 30% more furniture to fill them! The grandstands 
also look reasonably finished. The track itself needs a bit more 
work on the asphalt and the kerbs, but the organisers think it’s 
all within their time-lines and are confident that it will be 
ready on time. And the locations nice, we’re overlooking the sea.

There’s certainly some enthusiasm for F1 here. There are a lot 
of people at the event today, which wasn’t heavily publicised, 
and there’s a lot of media, which shows an interest. The 
organisers say they have sold a significant amount of tickets, 
so it should be a good race. It’s been great to drive the Red 
Bull car again and thanks to my team, HRT F1, for letting me 
complete this demonstration run."

This is certainly good news, as up to even a few days ago I was certain that the event would not go ahead.

For a different look at the track, here are two spectator videos of the event. Don’t take the fully built grandstand and pit lane as an indicator that it’s all finished though, as the rest of the track is still being constructed:

Yamamoto to remain at Hispania for rest of year

Sakon Yamamoto has claimed that he will remain driving for the Hispania team until the rest of the season – and he can’t guarantee which seat he’ll be taking. At the moment, Karun Chandhok is out of a drive thanks to Yamamoto, and for the while it looks as if Bruno Senna isn’t safe either.

In an (translated) interview with Formule1.nl, he said:

 "I will make the season anyway. Or I will replace Bruno and 
Karun, I do not know. But it is certain that I will run 
all races. "

So, with the Hispania team’s decision of money over results (and the apparent snub of other test driver Christian Klien), the focus will probably move to Karun Chandhok finding a drive for next season. For the moment, he is keeping himself busy with commentating on Radio 5 Live (and he’s pretty good at it), but the problem is that there are very few seats for 2011. Karun will have to get a move on if he is to be racing next year.

Yamamoto remains in Chandhok’s seat for Belgium

Sakon Yamamoto will continue to replace Karun Chandhok at Spa

Sakon Yamamoto will continue to replace Karun Chandhok at Spa

It has emerged today that Sakon Yamamoto will continue to take Karun Chandhok’s seat at the Hispania team for the Belgium Grand Prix, as the team tries to stay afloat on the Japanese driver’s sponsors. While there was initial hope that Karun could return after the summer break, today’s statement by the team has quashed those rumours.

Since Silverstone, Yamamoto has been occupying the race seats of Chandhok and once Senna. With this news, it is clear that Yamamoto will probably be racing at the very back for most of the rest of this season.

While I’m on about Yamamoto, I found an interesting stat on him: He has never scored a pole position in his entire motorsport career. Also, the last time he won a race was back in 2005, in the Super GT (Japanese Touring Car) championship, and he has only won one other race in his life.

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