Best weekend of GP2 season for Karun India's Karun Chandhok came up with his strongest race performances of the season thus far with 5th and 6th positions in the two races around the super fast Monza Autodromo. Karun's first double points haul...
Best weekend of GP2 season for Karun
India's Karun Chandhok came up with his strongest race performances of the season thus far with 5th and 6th positions in the two races around the super fast Monza Autodromo. Karun's first double points haul this year comes on the back of the last race meeting in Turkey where he led confidently for over half distance, and is a sure sign of progress as the season heads into it's final two weekends.
The Monza circuit is the fastest one on the calendar and the GP2 cars were reaching speeds of 328 kmh at the end of the start finish straight as drivers looked to the benefits of slipstreaming each other. On his first visit to Monza, Karun started the weekend well in 13th position in free practice, just one place and .05 of a second shy of his team-mate, the experienced Borja Garcia. In qualifying however, a rear suspension problem on his best lap cost him half a second through the final sector and left him in 18th place on the grid. Speaking afterwards, Karun said "Our qualifying luck is just ridiculous at the moment - that's the 5th time in 9 weekends that we've had something mechanical go wrong and leave us 8 or 10 places further back than where we deserve to be. I tell you it really isn't a nice feeling to have the suspension problem happen at the Ascari chicane where we are doing a 170 kmh ! I just had to go safely through the last corner to close the lap but it was clear we were going to be near the back again. It isn't anyone's fault, just one of those things that happens but unfortunately it seems to keep happening to me in qualifying !!".
At the start of race 1, Karun had to avoid the stalled car of Marcos Martinez and then moved sharply over to the left hand side. "Last week, I looked at a lot of videos of the F1 and GP2 starts here at Monza, because it's quite unique into the first chicane and I made my plan in advance. I went over to the left and it was perfect because everyone seemed to have the opposite idea to me and I was able to make massive progress" he explained. That massive progress meant moving from 18th off the line to 10th coming out of the first chicane. After disposing of fellow Red Bull backed driver Sebastian Buemi at the second chicane, the Durango Racing driver pitted at the end of lap 2 from 9th place.
From there he initially lost some ground on cold tyres to Bruno Senna but then showed good pace and as the others also made their mandatory pitstops, Karun worked his way up into 7th position. Following a safety car period, Karun passed Senna but then got pushed wide by Xandi Negrao who was on his way into the pits, allowing championship leader Timo Glock ( who had passed Senna ) to sneak by. Chandhok and Senna then had a great battle for a few laps until the Indian started suffering with brake problems into the chicanes and Senna eventually outbraked him with 6 laps to go.
Karun held on to 5th spot to record his best finish of the season so far and was deservedly delighted afterwards ; "I would never have thought that 5th was possible from 18th on the grid. The first lap was awesome and then our pace was pretty good until the last 10 laps when I started suffering with the brakes which isn't a nice problem to have when trying to stop the car from 320 kmh ! I really enjoyed that battle with Bruno though. We were racing hard but we respect each other and gave each other space which is how racing should be and we still had a good laugh about it afterwards."
This gave him 4th place on the grid for race 2 but too much wheelspin off the line dropped him to 6th. Exiting the first chicane, the engine lost power and this once again cost the 23 year old dropping him down to 10th place by the end of lap 1. Off the start, Karun said , "We have to look at the data and understand what happened at the start because that's really the first one this year where we haven't made a place. I just had massive wheelspin but I made one place back at the chicane only to lose 4 coming out when the power suddenly disappeared !" As the race settled down Karun picked off Vitaly Petrov and Nicolas Lappiere. Buemi then dropped out after a collision with Race 1 winner Giorgio Pantano. Pantano himself was driving with a damaged front wing and the officials had given him the signal to pull in to the pits as it was potentially dangerous. Pantano ignored the flag and Karun actually caught the former Jordan F1 driver on the final lap and finished the race side by side, aware that he didn't actually need to pass the Italian on the road. He explained "The team told me a couple laps earlier on the pit to car radio that Giorgio had been signaled in by the officials so although I caught him and got alongside at the final corner I didn't want to try anything too risky because I would've looked pretty stupid if I went off trying to make a place I already knew was mine. It looked good on TV to cross the line alongside him though !!".
Karun who is backed this year by Red Bull, JK Tyre, Amaron and ICSA Logistics is looking forward to his next race in just 6 days at the daunting Spa circuit in Belgium. Looking ahead, Karun said, "I must first of all thank the team for their work this weekend. It was good to score some solid points at their home race and now we can go to Spa with our confidence up and push for some more. Let's hope that our qualifying luck changes next week !!"