14/08/2012

Half time report: The non-F1 idols

Over the summer break we'll be giving you our views on how the season has gone so far for our drivers.

Today we're going to start with the Indian Motorsport idols who aren't in F1 (Karun Chandhok, Parthiva Sureshwaren & Armaan Ebrahim)

Karun Chandhok
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Darshan Chokhani:
One must have thought that after a decent season with Caterham in 2011, he would have secured his chances with the team for 2012 or maybe some other team in reserve driver role. But that wasn't the case as he had only one year deal and the team and him parted ways after that. Chandhok wasn't to sit idle one more year as he opted to join the new series from FIA which is World Endurance Series with JRM team and his teammates are David Brabham & Peter Dumbreck . It is different from F1 in all ways with him driving a sports car from the F1 single seater car. The main difference being the time, Endurance as the name says has 6 hour, 12 hour and 24 hour races as opposed to 2 hours races in F1.

Chandhok has done 3 races so far this season and they are 12 Hours of Sebring, 6 Hours of Spa and the iconic 24 Hours of Le Mans. I must say he has adapted to the racing pretty well over there. He has learnt the tracks, the tricks, the way quickly and has helped the team immensely. 

We shouldn't forget the fact that he is just a rookie there. The team has fared well as it sits 2nd in the LMP1 Trophy list with 63 points while in driver standing's, he is tied with his team mates in P7 with 22.5 points. Not bad at all for his debut season, he has also had a fastest lap under his name for the team. I am pretty pleased with his performances thus far and he is enjoying it too which is a positive thing. I am hoping that he will end the season on a high, wouldn't be surprised if he stay back in 2013 but surely I would love to see him back in F1.

Peter Santamaria-Woods:
The way Karun has developed through motorsport in unusual. The Indian driver won two races in GP2, but i don't think he'll blame me for saying that he never really set the World alight in the feeder series. However, when he did get his chance in F1, he certainly made the most of it - matching his HRT teammate Bruno Senna in uncompetitive machinery, then moving to Caterham for 2011. It was expected that he'd replace Jarno Trulli for 2012 but the roomer is he fell out with management when they didn't let him race at the Indian Grand Prix.

For 2012 he switched to the World Endurance Championship, and really, he's done pretty well in his debut season! He's had a couple of crashes, but that's to be expected from a rookie. All in all, he's matched his very experienced teammates for pace and he became the first Indian to ever take part in the 24 hours of Le Mans race; the most prestigious sports car race in the World. Really, leaving F1 has been great for him. He's really stood out as a talented individual in sportscar racing. However, i do still feel he has unfinished business in F1, still hoping we see him back someday!

Parthiva Sureshwaren
 
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Darshan Chokhani:
I expected that Parthiva will continue in F2 for one more year and he did. Before the start his expectation from the season was high, regular points finish and odd podiums was his aim and I believed that he can score regular now with good experience behind him. But till now he hasn't been able to score any points, he came close in his last round but couldn't in the end. F2 races aren't aired LIVE in India but I have seen quite many races when the highlights are on.

Parthiva has had a decent run till now but the biggest disappointment to him and me is surely that he hasn't scored any point yet. He came close to scoring in his last outing where he finished 11th in both races, his best finish yet in the season. The surprise element was when he skipped the last two races in Brands Hatch & Paul Ricard, though he confirmed that he will be back for the last two rounds of the season, he didn't confirm the reason for him skipping the two races though. Coming over to his performances, it's surely not what I expected but then the competition is tough and he is improving gradually since the start of the season. He has done well in practice sessions where he has promised a lot but hasn't been able to capitalise and convert them in qualifying and races. I hope he does well in the last two rounds and score some points to round off a pretty difficult season for him.

Peter Santamaria-Woods:
Parthiva is now in his 3rd season of Formula Two, and really, he should be doing better by now. In total he's taken part in 27 F2 races and has only scored points on one occasion (Monza race two, 2010).

He is a quick driver, he's proven that in the past. The problem he has is that it seems to take him an awful long time to get used to a circuit. A few times this season where there have been tests at a circuit in the run up to the race weekend, Parthiva has been showing promising pace - this is due to the extra running that the test provided. Infact, on a few occasions this year he was very unlucky to score no points.

The speed is there but he really needs to find a way to reach his potential on a track in a quicker time frame than he is at the moment. Maybe he needs a change of series in 2013 to try re-find some form?

Armaan Ebrahim
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Darshan Chokhani:
Last season he tested for Indy racing in America where he did well to start with and then later on he was confirmed to take part in Firestone Indy Lights series with a new team under the name Fan Force United. It was a strange move from Armaan to join Indy series but it was good to see him making some move in his career after 3 and 1/4th season in F2. His times in practice sessions in Indy was quite good for a rookie driver and team. He along with the team seemed to have high hopes before the start of the season.

He started off well with a P8 finish which became his best finish till he was there. Yes, in a shocking news a race after the iconic Indy 500 weekend, he and the team parted ways and Armaan came back to India. It's still unknown as to what led to the break-up. Was it monetary issue or both parties were not satisfied with the results? Only they know, no one has spoken about it much. If we see his season till then, it was fairly good as he was always around the Top 10 mark. He had gathered 97 points in the 5 races he did and even now he ranks 13th in the list which is not bad at all. Unfortunate that he parted ways or else he would have done even better. Till now we haven't heard anything from his side about his future though he had hinted on something.

Peter Santamaria-Woods:
I was unsure if Armaan made the right move switching to American open-wheel racing. Generally when a driver moves over to the US, it's very hard to get back to European racing. Armaan did a very promising job in the early stages of his debut Indy Lights season though. Including two top ten finishes in his first five events. That's why it came as such a shock when his team, Fan Force United, ditched him ahead of race six.

It seems as if it was a money issue. They replaced Armaan with a driver from the US called Bryan Clauson, i am guessing he brought more sponsorship to the team. However Bryan only took part in two more races. Since then there has been three more races (all in Canada) where Fan Force United have not had any car on the grid - maybe they've pulled out due to a lack of funds, maybe they've just decided not to take part in Canadian races - no-one seems to know!

This leaves Armaan in an awkward position for the rest of the season. It looks like he'll just have to sit on the sidelines until 2013 where hopefully he can negotiate a deal elsewhere, most likely in Indy Lights once again.

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