|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
Chandhok slips to third place
Shobha Warrier | May 12, 2003 15:04 IST
India's 19-year-old Formula 3 driver Karun Chandhok had been making waves in the Formula 3 scholarship class in England this year. Till last week, he had wonderful weekends, but this weekend, at Knockhill in Scotland, was "slightly disappointing" for him, as he finished only third in Race 1 and had to retire from Race 2 after a collision.
Last week, at Croft circuit in Yorkshire, Chandhok finished the weekend, maintaining the lead he had in the championship with 80 points despite a disastrous sixth round where he collided with team mate Steve Kane. But after the disappointing weekend, he was pushed to third place, with 92 points, while Kane, who was behind him, with 79 points last week, surged ahead, with 120 points, to lead the championship.
According to Chandhok, it was strong winds close to 100 km/h that welcomed the Formula 3 drivers to Knockhill on Friday for the test sessions. He had a fairly strong run to third place, three-tenths of a second behind team mate Kane and less than a tenth of a second behind Ernesto Viso, who moved to second position, with 93 points.
In first qualifying on Saturday morning, the Indian ace took some time to build the pace, but, with just three minutes of the session to go, he had a storming lap of 47.824 seconds and ended up just one-tenth of a second shy of Kane, who claimed pole position. Second qualifying didn't go quite as well for Chandhok as he crashed with six minutes of the session to go.
"I was just building up to a big push towards the end of the session, just like I had in first qualifying, but when I got to the first corner I wasn't able to engage fourth gear and when it did finally go into gear, the differential locked up and just sent me spinning backwards into the barrier. We were lucky that at least I managed one decent lap before the crash which put us third on the grid," he said later.
Though Race 1 started strongly for Chandhok, when he moved up the order on lap one, from lap 2, he lost time with what he described as "cold tyre graining". A mistake at the chicane on lap 17 and Viso got past him to claim the second place. Finally, it was his team mate Kane who finished first in the seventh round in 21:49.057 seconds.
Chandhok clocked 22:01.192 seconds.
"The start was quite good and I got ahead of two or three of the championship class cars at the first corner but from there on for some reason it just felt like there was a lack of grip in the car and it was quite difficult to drive. I made a mistake and went wide, off the circuit at the chicane on one lap, which allowed Ernesto a chance to go past.
"From there on I just drove to finish and take the points for third place," was how Chandhok described the race.
Race 2 was a "slightly disappointing affair" for Chandhok as he was bumped off the circuit by Ivor McCullough, who made an over-optimistic bid at the hairpin resulting in the Indian's car ending up in the gravel trap.
In racing you will always have good and bad weekends and, unfortunately, this wasn't one of our better ones for me. At least we came away from it with one podium and some points from Race 1," added Chandhok, reflecting on his "bad" weekend.
According to him, Knockhill is a circuit where drivers have to be very aggressive and have to "really muscle the car around".
"This suits some drivers more than others. For sure, it suited Steven more than me."
With the championship now moving to the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit, where Rounds 9 and 10 will be held on May 25 and 26, Chandhok will have some time to forget the disappointment of Round 8.
A fighter that he is, he said: "I'm just looking forward to Silverstone. The team and I were quick there last year, and it's a circuit which I really enjoy, so I hope to be back on top there."
Round 7: 1. Steven Kane 21:49.057 secs, 2. Ernesto Viso 21:55.899 secs, 3. Karun Chandhok 22:01.192 secs.
Round 8: 1. Steven Kane 17:06.818 secs, 2. Ernesto Viso 17:10.415 secs, 3. Christian England 17:23.210 secs.
1. Steven Kane 120
2. Ernesto Viso 93
3. Karun Chandhok 92.