x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Chandhok's debut delight

Karun Chandhok, the rookie Indian driver, says he is just happy to be on the grid for today's Bahrain Grand Prix.

SAKHIR // Karun Chandhok, the rookie Indian driver, says he is just happy to be on the grid for today's Bahrain Grand Prix. The 26-year-old, who was given his seat with the Spanish team, HRT 10 days ago, missed Friday's first two practice sessions due to mechanical problems, and when his car failed to find gear at the start of yesterday's third practice, it looked like the Chennai driver's dream of debuting in Sakhir was over.

The F1 rulebook dictates that no driver can compete unless they have taken part in "at least one practice session", but with qualifying being accepted as a form of practice, Chandhok was given the green light to take to the track, where he managed seven laps and clocked a fastest time of 2mins 4.904secs. "I still can't believe that we will be on the grid," he said. "I didn't expect to be driving the car for the first time in qualifying, but these are the circumstances and we made the best of it.

"I think I might be the only driver in the history of F1 to go straight into a qualifying session of a race without even having done a shakedown of the car." Timo Glock, in his Virgin-Cosworth, was the fastest driver of the three new teams with a time of 1min 59.728 secs, followed by the Lotus-Cosworth of Jarno Trulli. gmeenaghan@thenational.ae