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Race of my life: Karun Chandhok on 2008 Silverstone GP2 race

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Race of my life: Karun Chandhok on 2008 Silverstone GP2 race
Jun 23, 2020, 1:57 PM

As Motorsport.com launches the latest episode in its Race of My Life podcast series, we revisit the race former Hispania Racing and Team Lotus Formula 1 driver Karun Chandhok picked as his best - the 2008 Silverstone GP2 feature race.

Race: 2008 Silverstone GP2 feature race

Car: Dallara GP2/08

We'd been at Magny-Cours before that race and my iSport teammate Bruno Senna was on a good run of qualifying results. I was getting a little bit on the back foot and annoyed at my own qualifying. I either had traffic or made mistakes, it was a bit of a tough time.

Silverstone was a circuit I always loved and went well at. I know it so well because I worked there as an instructor, lived in Brackley, raced in British Formula 3 - it was effectively my adopted home circuit.

I was really pumped up for it and in qualifying I was on a really good lap. I came through Bridge flat and as I turned left into Priory, Andy Soucek was trundling along at the apex so I had to abort the lap. I was on course to be about fourth so I was furious.

I came into the pits, got out and started running down the pitlane with my helmet on and started giving Andy a mouthful. To his credit, he immediately apologised, which disarmed me! I didn't know what else to do but just walk back quietly.

More in Race of My Life series:

The next day it was baking hot, with a track temperature of mid to high-30s. My race engineer Richard Selwin said, 'How about we try a softer rear spring?', because it felt like it was going to be a race where we'd be tyre limited.

With the Bridgestones back then, tyre deg wasn't a conversation that you had as much as we do in the Pirelli era. It was part of a bigger set-up conversation, but that day we looked at the ambient temperature and thought it could be an issue.

We went for the softer rear spring and Bruno didn't want to do it - he was happy where he was at. That was one of the key decisions that helped me out.

I started 10th and made a couple of places off the start, but I had really good pace. I passed Soucek around the outside of Stowe, which was quite nice, and picked my way up. With that generation of car you could still follow in the high-speed corners - the front wing was relatively simple and we had the tunnels to produce good downforce.

The field that year was a particularly strong year - Giorgio Pantano, Lucas di Grassi, Senna, Romain Grosjean, Vitaly Petrov, Pastor Maldonado, Sebastien Buemi. Some really quality drivers. And 10 teams out of 13 won a race that season.

After the stops I passed Grosjean down the inside into Stowe. But as I came out there was a yellow flag and I had to brake and let him past again. Then I got by at Brooklands, diving down the inside over the kerb and we banged wheels. It needed a bit of co-operation!

I was probably three or four laps away from catching di Grassi, who ran into tyre trouble. Every time I came down Hangar Straight I could see him getting closer to me but I needed more laps because my tyres were still in pretty good shape.

 

It was relief to be third after a tough weekend at Magny-Cours and a rubbish day on Friday. I had worked with the team to set the car up in the way I wanted it and had enough conviction that it was the right direction. It was also the fact we came from behind. I went from 10th to third because I overtook people - good drivers - on track, not because they fell off.

The car was mega that day, so good to drive. The second lap of the race I did a 1m33.1s and the last lap was a 1m33.5s - you don't get that type of race anymore where you can push like hell all the way through in F2.

It was a helluva race, which showed off the best of GP2.

Interview by Alex Kalinauckas and Kevin Turner

Giorgio Pantano celebrates victory on the podium with Lucas di Grassi and Karun Chandhok

Giorgio Pantano celebrates victory on the podium with Lucas di Grassi and Karun Chandhok

Photo by: GP2 Series Media Service

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About this article

Series FIA F2
Drivers Karun Chandhok