|20. Karun Chandhok – HRT Cosworth
Karun Chandhok was the last of the driver to be confirmed on the 2010 grid, and the young Indian benefited from the upheaval at Hispania Racing to land himself a drive at the last minute.
His form in the GP2 feeder series was occasionally impressive but largely inconsistent, and therefore little will be expected of him: aside from a Red Bull test over two years ago, he has no other F1 running and he will be competing in a car yet to be driven in anger.
Chandhok has long been touted by the Indian media as F1’s next prospect after Narain Karthikeyan, and they pushed for him to have a seat at Force India – but team boss Vijay Mallya resisted their overtures, arguing that Karun did not yet have the talent to lead India’s national F1 team.
On the flipside, Karun’s appointment to F1 has been met with a ringing endorsement from F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone – hardly surprising given the wealth of Indian sponsors waiting in the wings to help line F1’s coffers…
Karun achieved some success in the junior Asian series, before venturing to Europe to compete in the 2003 British F3 series. He performed solidly, especially given his unfamiliarity with the circuits and his relative inexperience.
He subsequently had some outings in the A1GP series and the Renault World Series championships, but with limited success.
He returned back to his home continent in 2006 and utterly dominated the Formula V6 Asia Championship, winning 7 of the 12 races that season.
With more confidence, he launched himself back into Europe and took a GP2 seat with Durango, then a midfield team in the competition. He was soon in the running for points, and the championship’s reverse grid rules allowed him to start from the front row on occasions at the Sunday races.
He looked set to take victory at Istanbul until he was punted out of contention by Kazuki Nakajima, but recovered with an outstanding victory at Spa.
He moved to the iSport squad the following year and teamed up with his current F1 team-mate Bruno Senna. Although he scored another win, he couldn’t consistently harness his speed into consistent results and was generally won over by his Brazilian team-mate. His final GP2 season was with the Ocean Racing outfit, but he only finished on the podium once.
- A driver clearly with some talent to boot: you don’t win on tracks like Spa without a degree of skill and verve behind the wheel.
- The Indian press are going to expect much more than he will be able to deliver in the HRT Cosworth – just how he copes with the pressure from an expectant nation will be very telling.
- His consistency has generally been lacking in many of the categories in which he has competed.
- Dare we say it, that massive monobrow?
What defines success in 2010?
- Learn the ropes, keep his nose clean.
- Try to match Senna’s pace – he will be the quicker of the duo.
[Images via StatsF1]
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