Karun Chandhok believes he did 'enough to warrant another go' with his one-off appearance – for now – for Team Lotus in last weekend's German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring, as he explained his rationale behind this year as taking 'one step back to move two forward'.
Chandhok was parachuted into the cockpit usually occupied by Jarno Trulli in Germany, and after initially languishing some two-and-a-half seconds adrift of team-mate Heikki Kovalainen during Friday practice, the popular Indian worked hard to close to just over eight tenths away come qualifying, similar to the Italian's deficit on three occasions this year.
Despite a brace of high-speed spins during the grand prix itself, he went on to take the chequered flag in 20th position, two laps down on Kovalainen after struggling to get to grips with the intricacies of Pirelli's tyres in a race situation for the first time – a clear legacy of his lack of time in the cockpit leading up to the weekend.
The rumour mill suggests Chandhok will be given another opportunity to demonstrate his mettle in front of his home fans in the inaugural Indian Grand Prix at the end of October. Thanking team principal Tony Fernandes for his faith in him and benefitting from the support, moreover, of F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone and his father Vicky – President of the Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India – the 27-year-old is quietly confident that he has done enough to merit another chance.
“I am very happy with the way the weekend went,” he told Reuters
. “They said to me, 'if you qualify within a second of Heikki, [we] will be impressed with that' – and I got to within eight tenths. When it came to the race, I didn't quite have the experience when it comes to tyre degradation; I wasn't sure how quickly the car would snap, and that's why I spun, basically. Unfortunately, all the other drivers had the chance to spin in pre-season testing – I have to do it in public!
“It's just that the tyres are so different (compared to last year's Bridgestones), that's the big thing; it's just feeling the front tyre as you turn into the apex – it's massively different. We worked out before the race I'd done a total of two hours and 15 minutes of driving in the car, which is nothing if you compare it with six days of pre-season testing and all the other weekends other people have done on the tyres.
“I think Tony has shown this weekend that he's not afraid to mix things up, though. Obviously, Sunday wasn't that good but [the team] were quite happy overall with how the weekend went. This weekend was about earning internal respect and not embarrassing Tony for his bold decision of sticking me in there. I think internal respect was earned, and I don't think I embarrassed him.
“I believe I'll get some more chances, because Tony seems quite happy with the job I did, the engineers seem happy with the job I did. Bernie is very happy as well; he came to see Tony and me on the grid. We had a good chat, and they basically told me to go away and leave it to Tony and my dad and him. I think his (Ecclestone's) last words were, 'Get on with your job and leave us to it'.
“I think I have done enough to warrant another go, but whether it's this year or next year or the year after, we have to wait and see. That's a complicated situation. It's just a question of when it happens.”