COLUMN – Karun Chandhok: Turkish GP a bit frustrating
The Turkish Grand Prix weekend was a particularly frustrating time for me. Although they ended with Alguersari (Jaime) and Trulli (Jarno) respectively driving into me, the strong races I had in Barcelona and Monaco meant that I was looking forward to driving at Istanbul Park.
My flight out to Turkey had all the Red Bull guys on board with nearly 200 kg of excess baggage on the Easyjet flight — most of which probably included their F-duct.
It’s always a bit funny flying out to races if you live in the UK because they’re full of people from the paddock who you don’t really see much of until the return flight on Sunday.
I quite enjoy catching up with friends from GP2, Red Bull Racing, Force India, Williams, Renault or McLaren at the airports and on planes because once the weekend starts, it really is hard to get out of the little bubble that we seem to live in.
Looking back now, ironically, I was actually talking to the RBR guys about how it must be quite pleasant to have two really good guys fighting for the world championship but not really clashing.
Friday morning is generally spent waiting for the track to clean up before doing a couple of warm-up runs and the second practice session of the day is used to evaluate the two tyre compounds over longer runs when the track has a bit more rubber. We are all restricted to 3 sets of tyres for Friday so there’s a limited amount of work you can do and it’s really important to make every lap count.
Istanbul Park has the impressively long and fast Turn 8 corner and it really is made into an even bigger challenge because it’s very bumpy. A lot of guys, including myself, went wide there through the weekend although Sutil was the only one who hit the wall quite hard I think.
From Saturday morning, things started to become a bit hard on my side of the garage. The engineers noticed a straight line speed differential between my car and Bruno’s and unfortunately this was something that we couldn’t really solve for the rest of the weekend.
At a circuit like Istanbul Park, straight line speed is crucial and any deficit there is nearly impossible to make up. It was a bit frustrating for me, because under normal circumstances Bruno and I are within a tenth or two of each other and this time the gap was bigger which didn’t look good for me on paper.
We have a number of sensors on the car and the engineers at HRT F1 and Cosworth do a great job analysing the information but nowadays, with the limitations under the parc ferme rules, there’s not much they can do to fix things from Saturday afternoon onwards.
Problems like that can be due to a number of things — aerodynamics, engine, gearbox, electronics or driver related and require careful investigation before pointing out a specific problem. This is something the guys are doing this week before all the stuff goes to Canada.
Bruno’s qualifying run was reasonably trouble-free and his pace was more representative of where we were as a team this weekend, which is encouraging as it’s the closest we’ve been to the other new teams.
We haven’t had any major aerodynamic upgrades to the car while Lotus have had a couple updates and Virgin have an all new car, so it’s a sign of how well the run engineers are able to make our existing package better and also how both of us as rookie drivers are getting better.
The double retirement in the race was as disappointing for the guys who worked so hard all weekend as it was for us driving the cars but our technical director Geoff Willis and the engineering team are now looking into solutions to the fuel pressure issues we had at the weekend.
Off to Montreal next and the Circuit Gilles Villenueve, which is a new circuit for me. It looks like quite a tricky circuit with long straights and tight chicanes.
I hear a lot of good things about the people in the city being very enthusiastic about the race and the atmosphere is meant to be even better than Melbourne, which I thought was fantastic.
I’ve had a few days off to train in Brackley and also spend some time with the engineers looking over the info from Turkey to understand what we can improve as well as have a bit of a preview of what to expect in Montreal. Let’s hope we can get back to finishing races there.