Saturday 25 February 2017

F1: Chandhok thanks Ecclestone for F1 chance

Ian Parkes

India's latest Formula One star Karun Chandhok has thanked supremo Bernie Ecclestone for helping him to fulfil his lifelong dream.

Chandhok will become only the second Indian to compete in F1 when he drives in this weekend's season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.



Chandhok last week signed a last-minute deal with Hispania Racing, formerly Campos Meta, whose car has missed all of pre-season testing due to financial problems.



Despite an unremarkable record in GP2 over the last three years, Chandhok now finds himself alongside Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton et al.



"I had been talking to (former owner) Adrian Campos since Valencia last year, but things were dragging on for various reasons," said Chandhok.



"We started to look at other options, but then (new team principal) Colin (Kolles) called to say he was going to be taking over the running of the team.



"We were able to work very quickly with him and, along with Mr Ecclestone's advice, sorted a deal out.



"Bernie has always been a superb pillar of support to me and my family. It's amazing how much that man can do in a single day.



"This last winter has been very hard and it's taken us a while to get a deal sorted, so there are always times when you have doubts but in the end it all worked out okay.



"Now it's just an unbelievable feeling. I am absolutely thrilled to be able to fulfil a lifelong dream to break into Formula One.



"We've been working for so many years for this opportunity, and now we've finally made it, it feels a bit surreal to be honest.



"I think it will only fully sink in I am going to be on the same grid as world champions like Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso when I get to Bahrain."



Chandhok, however, appreciates as the car has yet to take to a race track, he, team-mate Bruno Senna and the rest of the Hispania squad are in for a tough baptism.



"I am under no illusions about what we're in for," Chandhok added on Formula1.com.



"At the end of the day we will be a new team with two rookies and no testing at all, so the first few races will be very hard indeed.



"Our shakedown will be the first practice session on Friday, and the first race will just be like a test session.



"But we have to stay optimistic and battle through the first few races before we start to see some solid results."

Press Association

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