Barcelona, Spain, Apr 28: The brightest young star in the brigade of Indian racing car drivers, Karun Chandhok showed his pace but couldn't find any luck in the opening round of the GP2 Series Formula One.
Chandhok finished just out of the points in ninth place on feature race, and was eliminated from yesterday's sprint after a number of collisions damaged his steering. The 24-year-old from Chennai, suffered a blow straight away when he lost control of his iSport International car in April 25 free practice session, while running on a tricky full fuel tank/stiff suspension set-up combination. He was travelling at well over 180 kmh in fifth gear when he went off into the tyrewall, but escaped unhurt. He made a brilliant start, immediately leaping up to fifth and then taking fourth with an amazing around-the-outside move on Adrian Valles at the first corner. Everything was going well behind his team-mate Bruno Senna, until a safety car resulted in all the cars coming into the pits together, forcing Karun to sit and wait behind Senna in his pit box.
''It's so frustrating when that happens, there's just nothing you can do,'' said Chandhok. ''You have to stop under the safety car, because if I'd stayed out I would have lost even more time. The mechanics did a great job to do both the pit-stops but after the delay of waiting for Senna to finish his pitstop, my good work from the opening lap was ruined.'' Chandhok rejoined in ninth. He enjoyed a huge battle with Kamui Kobayashi, who would go on to win yesterday's reverse grid race, but couldn't make an overtaking move and finished just outside the points in ninth place.
''It's so hard to pass at the Barcelona circuit.. Buemi, Kobayashi and I just drove around in a procession !'' His fortunes didn't improve in yesterday's race. After passing April 26 race winner Alvaro Parente off the line, Karun found himself under attack from Pastor Maldonado passed him going into Turn 4. As he turned into the corner Karun was hit from behind by Honda F1 test driver Luca Filippi.
''I was still alongside Pastor and then Luca hit me, so I fell to last place. Luca apologised for it afterwards but unfortunately it was another first lap incident that ruined the race,'' he said.
Karun made sparkling progress from the back of the pack, passing car after car and matching the pace of leaders until he made contact with Yelmer Buurman, damaging his steering and forced him out of 15th place.
''What's so annoying is that I could have scored points in both races this weekend,'' he added.
Chandhok's next race is the second round of GP2 at Istanbul in Turkey on May 10-11.
''We tried something different on the car in the second race and it worked really well,'' he said. ''I can't wait until Istanbul. I led the race there last year till Nakajima took me out and I really love the circuit. I think we're going to be even quicker there, and I'm determined to get some points on the board.''