22/02/2012

Karun in Coventry!

Karun Chandhok visited my university yesterday (Coventry University) for a Q&A session, thankfully i was in attendance. There were about 50-80 people present, mostly students, and they got to quiz the star of Indian Motorsport on a variety of topics. Here are some of the things that Karun said during his responses.

Early on in the event he stated, somewhat surprisingly, that he has "no interest in road cars" when asked about his road car history. Infact he told the crowd that when he did some filming with TV show Top Gear for a DVD he had to tell Jeremy that he didn't know which car was which! The producers then gave him a printed word document with the pictures of each car and the name of it below so he could learn them!

Karun also discussed his upcoming World Endurance Championship season saying that he was "looking forward" to getting in the car for real having only been on the simulator so far. He added that the main difference between F1 cars and endurance cars is the weight, specifically the power to weight ratio (obviously endurance cars are far heavier than the 640kg limit of an F1 car).

The way the World Endurance Championship works is that a team has three drivers who alternate behind the wheel (often in 3-4 hour stints). When a driver is not in the car they need to try and rest so when they get back in they will be refreshed, restored and ready to race. Karun said one of the main challenges he would face in an endurance event is sleeping! He mentioned that after a race stint, being able to switch off will be very hard due to the adrenaline pumping and also due to the noise around the circuit; likewise, when waking up it will be hard to get that adrenaline pumping once again to make sure he's on top form.

Another problem Karun discussed was that racing drivers, in general, have very methodical processes and in a series like F1 this is fine where each driver has their own car. However in the World Endurance Championship where one car is shared by three drivers this can be an issue as different drivers have different preferences. The ex-F1 driver gave the position of the steering wheel as one example; hard to position correctly as drivers have different heights and sizes' comfort could be an issue.

One rather interesting story he told the crowd was of when he first had the idea of becoming a racing driver. He went to his parents and told them he wanted to become a racer and his mum said that's fine as long as his A-Level results were good. Apparently his father responded with "you must be joking"; this was because Karun weighed alot during his younger days. However Karun showed his dedication to the cause and lost 20kg in the space of 10months (Janruary-October) and then went back to his father to begin what would become his career.

Karun also talked about his relationship with Bernie Ecclestone saying that he gets on well with the F1 supremo and he gave a nice little anecdote about when he first met Bernie as a young racer aged 16. At first he was nervous but he quickly realised that Bernie was just a normal guy really and they had a meal together along with Karun's father in a local pub.

The final question of the session was actually my question:

"Are you still looking for a reserve driver role in F1 this season?"

To this he answered that he was still looking for some F1 activity and that he was sure he would still be involved with the series in some capacity.

Personally i'm hoping that he gets a reserve driver role but failing that i would hope he carries on his commentary with the 5LiveF1 team (UK radio) as when he has done that job in the past he has been quite brilliant!

All in all an entertaining day and it was an absolute delight to meet him!

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