Having been removed from contention in spectacular fashion close to the end of the Monaco Grand Prix last weekend, Karun Chandhok was left to quip that 'I still have my head, thank God' – after Jarno Trulli's Lotus came perilously close to leaving the popular Indian decapitated.
The duo were tussling over 13th position – unlucky for Chandhok, it would transpire – and the honour of finishing as the best-placed of the 'new team' drivers when Trulli went for a somewhat overly-ambitious move into Rascasse, with the Lotus ending up on top of the Hispania Racing (HRT) machine. It was, the Indian rookie acknowledged, a slightly unnerving moment.
“It was a very lucky escape,” he told The Times of India
. “I still have my head, thank God! I could see from the corner of my right [eye] that Jarno Trulli's Lotus was coming at me and boy, I wouldn't want it to happen again. Jarno straightaway came and apologised – he misjudged the move. It happens in racing.”
Perhaps of rather greater concern now that his head is still happily attached, is the financial health – or otherwise – or HRT, with scant money to afford repairs or replacements and develop the car, and confirmation from the struggling Spanish outfit's team principal Dr. Colin Kolles that F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone 'is helping us' with a view to 2011 [see separate story – click here
There has also been speculation of disagreements between Kolles and team owner José Ramón Carabante, who stepped in at the eleventh hour in February to save the ailing former Campos Meta 1 effort from hitting the buffers before the campaign had even got underway.
Whilst Chandhok understandably refuses to comment upon such conjecture – insisting simply that 'it has nothing to do with me...I know what the truth is and I am not worried' – given the total lack of testing time that HRT has had to-date, a complete absence of prior track knowledge on occasion and persistent reliability niggles, that the 26-year-old has been classified as having made the finish four times out of six is impressive indeed.
“It is tough being at the back,” candidly conceded the man who has won over many fans in 2010 with his unfailingly cheery demeanour, regular Twitter
musings and determined nature. “[It's] a strange feeling really, because it's not something I'm used to. The reactions have been generally positive, and we've made steady progress.
“Honestly, we're two months behind, but now we're within five per cent of the pole time – though it isn't as if the others are standing still. The target for the new teams is to beat each other; we have our own little battle at the back.”
On the subject of Bruno Senna, finally – who he similarly partnered at iSport International in the feeder GP2 Series two years ago, and who he has outperformed this season as often as not – the Chennai native revealed that the pair are firm friends, a rarity in modern-day F1 between any two drivers, let alone team-mates whose primary goal is to beat the other.
“People in the paddock are genuinely confused as to how Senna and I can be good friends,” he puzzled. “I see him as Bruno, as a fellow F1 driver and a friend – not as [Ayrton] Senna's nephew. I think that's what the difference is. He readily admits that it has helped him out a lot.”