Let’s face it, having an F1 car hurtling toward you cannot be a good, calm experience. Last week’s Monaco Grand Prix saw a lucky Karun Chandhok as he escaped serious injury when the Lotus Racing car of Italian Jarno Trulli plowed over the top of the HRT piloted by the Indian. It was an odd place to pass but Trulli was sure he saw a gap. An open door for which to pass even though passing at the Rascasse corner is not something it is known for. No, it’s known for other oddities but passing isn’t usually one of them.
Chandhok said he was lucky and described the experience as something that happens in racing:
“It was a very lucky escape. I still have my head, thank God. I could see from the corner of my right that Jarno Trulli’s Lotus was coming at me and boy, I wouldn’t want it to happen again. Jarno straightaway came and apologized. He misjudged the move. It happens in racing,”
It certainly does happen in racing. I recall Australia in 2007 when David Coulthard attempted to fly over the Williams of Alexander Wurz. It did prompt several comments about the safety of the modern F1 cockpit and some even suggested a cover or higher sides.
The bigger issue, now that we know Chandhok is safe, is that HRT is not a team that can afford to repair and replace damaged cars. The team didn’t have a spare front wing for Monaco–a track know for killing front wings indiscriminately. The small team has been struggling to find pace but with six grands prix under his belt, Chandhok has only failed to finish two of them. That’s not a bad record considering the company he is keeping in F1. Especially teh new teams.
I have not heard any further rumblings from the F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone’s comment about possibly needing to step in a save HRT financially but there is little doubt that the rumors are flying. Some suggested that the issue stems from a rift between team boss Colin Kolles and the owner Jose Carabantes. Whatever the reason, Chandhok is trying to remain positive even in the face of a serious lack of pace and development:
“It is tough being at the back. A strange feeling really because it’s not something I’m used to. The reactions have been generally positive and we’ve made steady progress. Honestly we’re two months behind but now we’re within five per cent of the pole time. But it isn’t as if the others are standing still. The target for the new teams is to beat each other. We’ve our own little battle at the back,”
In the end, Karun Chandhok has endeared himself to a whole new fan base with his Twitter account and happy demeanor. He’s settled in to the hearts and minds of F1 fans regardless of his pace of the pace of his team. If a teammate is any measure, Bruno Senna isn’t doing much better than Chandhok and the fact of the matter is, they are quite good friends as well. Let’s hope HRT is staying and that Chandhok can continue to progress in F1…with his head attached of course.