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Karun Chandhok interviewed by Richard Heseltine

Karun Chandok in conversation with Richard Heseltine

Above: (left) Richard Heseltine interviews Karun Chandhok. Photo by Chloe Knight

By Georgia Williams

Racing driver and Sky Sports F1 analyst Karun Chandhok appeared at the Motoring Literary and Art Festival to talk about his career and how to improve F1 racing.

Karun comes from a motorsport family – his father and grandfather competed in rallies in the 1970s. Even so, he found it difficult to break into the sport. He said, “growing up in India there were no tracks or karting when you were younger which was a disadvantage.”

Alongside his racing he worked as a race marshal, commentator and writer to earn money to further his racing career.

Karun talked candidly about the tough experience of transitioning into Formula 1. He was a Red Bull Junior driver in 2007 and 2008 but with talents like Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel already in the pipeline it was clear there was little future for him with the team and he moved on. “I was one of the few people to ever leave on good terms with Helmut Marko,” he said.

Karun joined the Lotus F1 team in 2011, excited by the prospect of competing at his home race. But Lotus didn’t keep up their end of the deal. “I was naive to think that people will keep their word, unfortunately you can’t trust everyone and I learned that,” he said. Karun was let go by the team just three weeks prior to his home Grand Prix.

Anthony Davidson, now Karun’s colleague at Sky Sports F1, convinced him to try sports car racing and the World Endurance Championship. This experience was invaluable to Karun as he said he loved “working as a team and having unity.”

Karun thinks there should be more teams in Formula 1. “It annoys me because we need more progression. There is a log jam. We’ve got no point for at least half of the Formula 2 grid at the minute because there is no way into Formula 1 right now. The FIA should be leading the future of the sport.”

Reflecting on the infamous end of the 2021 F1 season in Abu Dhabi Karun said, “You have to give credit where it’s due. Lewis [Hamilton] deserved to win that race, but Max [Verstappen] deserved to win the Championship.”

Despite Verstappen’s dominance over the last three years, Karun revealed that F1 is arguably more competitive than it has ever been. His own research on qualifying performance shows the gap between the teams is the smallest it’s ever been.

Asked what changes the FIA needed to make to F1 he said, “I think they should stop making changes. All it does is favour the big teams.”

By Georgia Williams

 

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