x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Going will continue to be tough says Chandhok

Karun Chandhok's truncated Formula One debut last weekend was tougher than he expected and the Indian driver has conceded that his Hispania (HRT) team will face a very long, hard season.

NEW DELHI // Karun Chandhok's truncated Formula One debut last weekend was tougher than he expected and the Indian driver has conceded that his Hispania (HRT) team will face a very long, hard season. Chandhok, 26, retired on the second lap of last Sunday's season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix when he hit a bump and went off the track, having first driven the car in qualifying a day earlier.

"I knew my F1 debut was going to be tough but never realised it would be so tough," he said. "This was definitely not how imagined my F1 debut but unfortunately this is how it was." The Chennai-born driver, who is only the second man from India to race in Formula One - after Narain Karthikeyan in 2005 - nevertheless enjoyed his first taste of being part of the sport. "It was surreal," he said. The paddock was very welcoming. Most of the drivers welcomed me, saying 'welcome to the gang'."

"The best moment was the drivers' parade, my mother later pointed out that only 24 people in the entire world were part of that little group and it felt great," Chandhok added. With his Spain-based team winning a last-gasp battle just to get to Bahrain, Chandhok is aware that the prospects are not looking much brighter for next week's Australian Grand Prix and beyond. "The season is going to be tough and I need all the support I can have," he said.

An extra team will be selected as a stand-by for the next two world championships in case there is an unexpected vacancy on the grid in the early part of the season. The FIA, the sport's ruling body said they "may also identify one or more possible reserve entrants to fill such vacancies" during a new selection process. Candidate teams are being asked to formally express their interest before April 15, with a final decision on the stand-by team being made in July.

* Reuters