|First race||Bahrain Grand Prix||BIC||March 14, 2010||Race results|
|Last race||German Grand Prix||Nürburgring||July 24, 2011||Race results|
After spending three years toiling away in the GP2 championship, Karun Chandhok finally made the step up to Formula One in 2010. His amiable personality won him a legion of fans in the junior series and his popularity continued to grow in his debut year. However, his budget didn't match that of Japanese Sakon Yamamoto and after the British Grand Prix he was left without a drive until joining Lotus in 2011.
He first made a name for himself in India when he won the Formula Maruti championship - one of relatively few junior series running in his home country. He quickly progressed to the Asia-wide Formula 2000 series and won that too. In 2002 he pitted his talents against the ultra-competitive British Formula 3 field and in his second year in the championship he finished a very respectable third with seven victories.
Alongside his British F3 campaigns, he competed in a handful of races in the Worldseries by Renault and in 2005 drove three races for his country in A1 GP. In 2006 he returned to Asia to drive in the less competitive Formula V6 championship, which he duly won. That opened the door to GP2 the next year, where he steadily progressed and took a victory in the sprint race at Spa Francorchamps. His promising start in GP2 secured him two days of testing for Red Bull, at which he held his own against a whole field of both established F1 drivers and young hopefuls.
For 2008 he was paired with Bruno Senna at the race-winning i-Sport outfit in GP2 and was a consistent points scorer. However, as he scrapped for top-eight finishes and a single win, Senna was challenging for the championship and finished the season with over double Chandhok's points.
In 2009 he stayed in GP2, but his season was dogged by retirements and bad luck and he finished a lowly 18th in the standings. Nevertheless, with sponsors' money and his potentially lucrative nationality as negotiating tools, he became a serious contender for a F1 race seat in 2010. His dream finally came true just a week before the start of the season when he was announced as a race driver for HRT alongside his old sparring partner Senna.
After leaving HRT his future in the sport was far from certain, but he was picked up by Lotus as a third driver, going on to race in the German Grand Prix in place of Jarno Trulli as the team entertain the idea of an Indian driver participating in the inaugural Indian Grand Prix. Despite a less than convincing performance, he is still by far the best-qualified Indian for F1 and his winning personality has earned him respect up and down the paddock.
Strengths and Weaknesses
He has shown he can be consistent when given a competitive car in junior series, but the HRT was so bad in 2010 that his potential in F1 is still anybody's guess.
Winning his first GP2 race at Spa Francorchamps, after pulling a brave move on Andy Soucek at Les Combes.
Being ditched by HRT after the British Grand Prix on grounds of money rather than talent.
"A Formula One car is something special and to be one of the few people in the world to drive one feels pretty cool."
Vijay Mallya on giving Chandhok a drive at Force India: "At the end of the day he must win some GP2 races and come out good in the F1 simulator. And if he is competitive in the simulator, I would be the first one to offer him a position in Force India."
Chandhok's father, Vicky, is a former national rally champion and is a key player behind the introduction of the Indian Grand Prix in 2011. He was named as a potential candidate for the FIA presidency in 2009 and is a friend of F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone.
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October 28, 2011
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