Something of a WTF1 first now, our first interview. Former F1 driver and current World Endurance Championship racer Karun Chandhok has kindly answered some questions for us. Don’t worry, we haven’t gone all formal, we’ve been talking endurance racing, helmets, liveries and beards.
Click below for the very first WTF1 Interview.
WTF1: Hi Karun, Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. How has 2012 been for you?
Karun Chandhok: It’s been a really pleasant surprise. After spending a lot of 2011 watching or commentating on racing I was really itching to get back to racing full time. I was a bit apprehensive as it’s my first foray into non- single-seater racing but so far it’s been great. The JRM team is very professional, the cars are very enjoyable to drive and the wheel to wheel racing is fantastic ! It’s a real challenge to be quick in traffic and plan 5 or 6 overtaking moves a lap!
WTF1: So how is Endurance Racing going? What’s the big difference between it, compared to single-seaters and F1?
KC: It’s been a challenge to get used to the radically different mentality of endurance racing compared to F1. I still need to understand the mentality that in this discipline of racing, the more you help your team-mate, the better it is for everyone. In F1, you always push to be the fastest in the team and hold a little back of info from your team-mate, because you want to beat them. Obviously the cars are very different being 400 kilos heavier and having a bit less power. The still have a lot of downforce since the square area of the floor is so large which makes it good fun to drive.
WTF1: You’re going to be racing in Le Mans. Had you always dreamed about racing in the famous 24 hour race? So you’ve done the Monaco Grand Prix, next up is Le Mans… Indy 500 next?
KC: Well I think there are some classic race tracks in the world where you want to stand on the podium. I’ve been there at Macau, Silverstone, Spa and Monaco in various categories so I guess Le Mans, Sebring, Monza, Bathurst and Indy remain!
WTF1: Looking back, is there a race that really stands out as the best of your career?
KC: It’s hard to pick but I think probably the GP2 feature race at Silverstone in 2008. I had been blocked in qualifying and ended up 10th on the grid. Bridgestone gave us a softer than usual compound that weekend and it became a race to really manage the tyres and be quick, a bit like F1 this year. The iSport car was working brilliantly in the race that day and worked my way through the pack, picking off some really good drivers like of Bruno, Romain, Buemi and Soucek along the way to finish 3rd and just a few seconds behind Pantano and di Grassi in front.
WTF1: Do you feel you have unfinished business in F1?
KC: Yes to some extent I do but I’m not losing too much sleep over it anymore. I think I did a respectable job given the limited opportunities I had and would have liked a proper crack at it with some proper testing – the only proper test days I’ve done in F1 were back in 2007 with Red Bull!
WTF1: We all know as well as a driver, you’re also a huge fan of the sport and the term ‘Karunipedia’ has been thrown about a few times! Could you share with us some of your favourite F1 facts?
KC: Oooh, I don’t really have any favourite facts – the stats just sort of roll of my head when the time comes!
WTF1: If you could jump into the cockpit of any car in history, which one would it be and why?
KC: My top 3 are the 1993 Williams FW15c , the 1990 Ferrari 641 and the 1988 Mclaren MP4/4
WTF1: If you were getting an F1 team together, which two drivers from history would you choose?
KC: Fernando Alonso and Alain Prost
WTF1: So what would a ‘Chandhok F1 Team’ livery look like?
KC: Hmm… Probably like Jenson’s 1999 F3 car at Macau. I always liked that livery!
WTF1: Tell us about your helmet design, how long did it take to come up with and why have you chosen that design?
KC: When I was a Red Bull Young driver, their creative guys came up with a design with the Red Bull logos and also using the Indian flag colours on the top. When I left the RBR program, I worked with my helmet painter Jason Fowler at JLF to come out with a slight variation. An Indian company called JK Industries have supported me since my first ever race in India and their company colour is yellow so Jason worked that in as well as a show of goodwill to them.
WTF1: It wouldn’t be a WTF1 Interview without a few photoshops. So, we’ve photoshopped you with 6 pieces of classic facial hair but can you name which F1 drivers they are originally from?
KC: 1. Keke Rosberg (Correct)
2. Fernando Alonso (Correct)
3. Emo Fitipaldi (Correct)
4. Nigel Mansell (Correct)
5. Jenson Button (Incorrect, Graham Hill)
6. Harald Ertl (Correct, Impressive!)
WTF1: So now you’ve seen what you’d look like, which piece of classic F1 facial hair do you think you’d look best in?
KC: Bah! No idea!
WTF1: We’ll have to let our readers decide that one!
WTF1: So what will the future bring for Karun Chandhok?
KC: Hopefully plenty of driving, cycling, sitting on the beach, TV work and travelling!
A big thanks to Karun for being such a great sport and to his brother Suhail for organising the interview.