Op-Ed: OK, seriously, can Karun Chandhok get more ‘real’?

I’m not sure if HRT driver Karun Chandhok is going out of his way to win the love of the F1 “Everyman” Fan or if it just comes naturally to him.

I just happened upon the BBC’s Sara Holt’s blog, and I found this:

Hispania driver Karun Chandhok revealed in Barcelona a novel approach to learning one of the upcoming circuits on the Formula 1 calendar.

Unlike the high-tech top teams, the Spanish rookies don’t have a simulator to school their drivers so Chandhok has been taking matters into his own hands.

Last Friday evening the 26-year-old got on his bike to get a feel for the revamped Silverstone circuit.

Like the rest of the paying punters, Chandhok handed over £5 and began pedalling.
“I live in Brackley so I often train in that area and cycle past Silverstone,” explained the Madras-born racer.

Seriously? Biking it is one thing. But paying the 5 Pounds to do so? Really, can you imagine Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button or, heck, even Sebastian Vettel not pulling the whole, “Don’t you know who I am?” routine?

And, it gets better.

“So I paid a fiver, the guy at the track checked I’d got a ticket and off I went around the circuit.

“There were loads of people cycling along with me, a few of them stopped in surprise when they saw me.”

It’s not the first time Chandhok has been spotted at Silverstone. He raced there regularly in the British Formula Three Series, finished on the podium in 2008’s GP2 race and there’s one more thing…

“I worked at Silverstone for three years until 2004,” laughed Chandhok. “I was an instructor and a marshal.

“I’m probably the first employee who’s gone on to be a Formula 1 driver!”

OK, maybe a little forced… but still. The guy does not seem to be letting being an F1 driver go to his head.*

Now, for you readers who want a little meat here with the sweet dessert I’m presenting, I give you Chandhok’s take on the new Silverstone:

“I love the old circuit,” he said. “Bridge into Priory was a great challenge and you did see some overtaking through the Abbey Chicane.

“You won’t see any overtaking on the new Bridge because there’s a fast right and a fast left so you can’t follow.

“The first right-hander [of the new section] is also quite bumpy. The land has sunk on the apex and I’m going to talk to [FIA safety delegate] Charlie Whiting about it. They’ll have to get it sorted before the grand prix but there’s plenty of time.

“To be honest, I don’t think the new circuit is any better for us or the cars.”

And there you have it. From a bike-level point of view, even.

*OK, feel free to make jokes about HRT not being an F1 team. Maybe an F1- or GP1.5.

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