Want to give back to sports without indulging in politics: Karun Chandhok
After splitting with Mahindra Racing, Karun Chandhok is yet to figure out where the next season will take him but the Indian racer has a clear vision about how to mentor the next generation of drivers.
Greater Noida: After splitting with Mahindra Racing, Karun Chandhok is yet to figure out where the next season will take him but the ace Indian racer has a clear vision about how to mentor the next generation of country's drivers.
Karun's motto is not to get involved in the politics of Indian motorsport, instead stay outside and use his connections and knowledge to help the youngsters develop their careers.
This is exactly what 31-year-old Chandhok is doing. He is helping out Maini brothers -- Arjun and Kush -- apart from mentoring six other drivers at GT academy.
"The situation in Indian motorsport is hugely complex and complicated. Which is why I got involved with GT academy, outside federations. I prefer not to get involved in that. I don't want politics and drama, better to get directly involved with the drivers," Chandhok told PTI on the sidelines of JK Tyre Racing Championship, where he is performing the role of Race Director.
"By trying to do it in official way, it slows down the process. Talking directly is better and easier. I don't have time to deal with tonnes of people. I would like to get to a stage where I have 5-6 boys (to guide)."
Chandhok, only the second Indian driver to reach the level of F1, recently took Arjun to F1 team Williams factory and introduced him to the bigwigs there.
"I have been working with Arjun for the last two years. I don't hold his hand. He has to grow up. I take him to gym, I make him do training at home. He also stays in my home sometimes. I like guiding him. He is only 17, very talented. Then there are GT academy drivers," he said, emphasising that he wants to "give back to sport which has given him a lot in the last 15 years".
Elaborating on his role as a mentor, Chandhok made it clear that he can't get sponsors for the drivers.
"I want to pick and choose people, who have potential and mentally have a drive to do it. I have spent too many years chasing the sponsors. I am not in the game to find sponsorships for these guys. So, where I like to get involved is that if they have a budget to do some racing, then I help them to choose that this is the championship you should do and this is the team you should do it with. This is the engineer I can help you hire and this is how you should train," he explained.
Chandhok also had a message for the drivers and their parents to be realistic and if they find they are not good enough at first level, they should stop there.
He split with Mahindra Racing after spending the inaugural season in Formula E but insisted that it was not due to any lacking on his part.
"Formula E was difficult. A lot of it was not in my own hands. I was driving well as a driver but we were not competitive as a team. Unfortunately the car was not competitive. It proved difficult at the end of the year.
"We started off well but then went backwards. I could not make an agreement with Dilbag. The way season developed, to me it was not the right way and the results showed. So we chose to split. When you are not competitive, you stop enjoying."
Insisting that his driving skills were never an issue, he cited example of how he drove at historic Le Mans, which is world's most difficult endurance race.
"At Le Mans I did very well. I was fastest in my team. I drove 10 hours, did not go off track even once in one week. Last year I did European Championships. I would like to have more opportunities in Sports cars.
"I would like to do more sports car and endurance. I am still fast and fit enough. This is my 15th year and that's probably half way mark," he said.
Chandhok said the current generation has much better exposure and infrastructure and they must utilise it.
"They are the first generation who are getting benefitted out of infrastructure. The cars they have got is not what me and Narain (Karthikeyan) had. Use it and go international. If you have to go to F1, you need to win in Asia easily, if you win in Asia easily you have to a chance to be in top-10 in Europe. Then you go forward. The key is to go to Formula Masters in Asia," he said.
Chandhok said he has realised that racers are ready to think beyond F1.