India's Karun Chandhok was left to rue what might have been following round four of the new-for-2008 GP2 Asia Series at Sakhir, supporting the Bahrain Grand Prix. He scored one point after a sparkling recovery drive in the feature race on Saturday, after he was delayed by a slow pitstop and a spin, but was pushed out of the lead at the first corner of Sunday's sprint race.
Chandhok could reflect on a superb qualifying session that put his iSport International car on the front row for Saturday's feature race for the second race running. The 24-year-old from Chennai, who is backed by Red Bull, JK Tyre, Amaron and ICSA Logistics, impressed the watching Formula 1 fraternity with his qualifying performance that was bettered only by series leader Romain Grosjean, Renault's F1 test driver.
He leapt into the lead at the start, followed by iSport team-mate Bruno Senna, as Grosjean made a poor getaway. A second corner collision put two cars into the tyrewall, and the safety car was required to remove the debris.
Karun pitted from the lead, but a traffic in the pitlane meant he rejoined the queue in seventh. To compound matters, he then spun at the first corner on his new cold tyres, dropping him to the tail of the field: "The safety car really messed things up for us. When leaving the pits I made a mistake", he admitted, "but I was determined to make up for it, once I'd got the car going again."
Rejoining at the tail of the field in 22nd place, Chandhok charged back into the points in 8th place with an amazing recovery drive. "I was passing cars left, right and centre ; it was very exciting ! There were a couple occasions where I was passing 2 or 3 cars at one shot" he said. Karun grabbed a point, and reverse grid pole for the sprint race, with a final sensational pass on Vitaly Petrov between Turns 1 and 2.
For Sunday's sprint race, Chandhok made a solid start but had to fend off fellow front row starter Diego Nunes on the run to Turn 1. He thought he had the Brazilian covered, but Nunes crashed into Chandhok's right-rear tyre, sending him spinning out of the lead.
"I squeezed him on the straight and he backed out of it, so I was clearly ahead turning into the corner. Suddenly, he just drives into me out of nowhere. I was keen to get ahead into Turn 1, because I knew he would hold up the quicker guys behind him, but the next thing I knew : Bang! He ruined both our races." The stewards of the race penalized Nunes but it was no consolation to the Indian. "I don't really care if he has a penalty or not for Dubai it doesn't fix what happened today !"
Karun once again rejoined at the back, and overtook a number of cars until damage sustained to the rear suspension in the collision with Nunes eventually forced him into the pits and retirement.
Chandhok's next race is the final round of GP2 Asia at Dubai in the United Arab Emirates on April 11/12. "I'm determined to end the this string of bad luck in Dubai !!" he said. "I've been the front row now 4 times, so everyone knows I'm quick but that's not resulting in points for a variety of reasons. The team and I have worked really hard for the last two weekends to get to a position where we can fight for wins and podiums and I really think that we deserve it."