Karun Chandhok put his poor form in sprint races to one side at Hockenheim to score victory in the latest rounds of the GP2 season.
The iSport International man has endured a wretched run of form in sprint races so far this year but put that to one side to win in Germany as team-mate Bruno Senna ensured a double podium finish for Paul Jackson's team.
The Indian racer had qualified in tenth place on the grid for the feature race and quickly climbed up to seventh place – making up a further position after his mandatory pitstop. Chandhok then pitted for wet tyres when rain started to fall and slipped back to finish in eighth place, although that in turn gave him pole position for Sunday's sprint race.
“Things went well in the first half of the race, although there wasn't a great deal happening on the track,” he said. “I pushed like hell during the laps coming up to my pit stop – that and a good 'out' lap enabled me to gain a place on Javier Villa. I was able to maintain a decent pace even though I had one or two problems with my brakes – on one lap that almost caused me to run off at the Sachskurve. I'd pretty much accepted that I wasn't going to gain any more ground when it began to rain. Ultimately that dropped me a place or two, but it was the safest option in the conditions.”
Chandhok's hopes of a win in the sprint race were hit at the start when he lost out to Lucas di Grassi off the line but he stayed close to the Renault F1 test driver and battled past di Grassi into the Mercedes Arena to reclaim the lead. From there, he held off the challenge of Andreas Zuber, who managed to get into second place, to celebrate his first sprint race points of the season with a maximum score.
“We've had some really bad luck on Sundays this year, so it was nice to finally win one," he said. "It was a good win, because I had to pass Lucas for the lead and was under pressure all the time, but I had good pace. I think the team did a great job for me. It's a fantastic result. We changed the clutch overnight, and I just couldn't judge the bite of it at the start. Lucas had an amazing start, but he was pretty slow and it was no problem to pass him. I got a good exit from turn two, and he was sliding around a lot, and got a good run into the hairpin.
"I sold him a dummy, so although he was briefly back in front, I knew I'd get him on the way out. From then on, it was okay. I didn't really feel under pressure too much from Zuber, although he was always there. The rear tyre degradation was much higher than we anticipated, so it was tricky to manage. I knew if I'd have run away from Zuber, I would have been in trouble with the tyres at the end, so it was a case of managing the gap to him.
"The only problem I had in the whole race was lapping Diego Nunes, and I ran wide at turn one when I lost the downforce. That allowed Zuber to get a bit of a run on me, so I had to defend at the hairpin. But, besides that brief moment, I was in total control of the situation. I am really delighted for the whole team, the sponsors and everyone. It was really fantastic to have the Indian national anthem playing at a Formula One weekend for only the second time."