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Chandhok: No rivalry with Karthikeyan

New Delhi: Karun Chandhok reckons both he and Narain Karthikeyan have a common goal — a Formula One drive — but shoots down suggestions of a rivalry between them.

The fast-rising Chennai driver, who just joined iSport in GP2 series and is a test driver for Red Bull in F1, believes both he and Karthikeyan, currently plying his trade in A1 GP, have taken different routes, which probably converge at Formula One.

“I think in India people look at it as competition because we are the two prime candidates (for an F1 drive),” Chandhok said. “But at the end of the day, he’s had a seven-year head-start and I think I’ve done well to get to where I’m today,” said the 23-year-old driver.

And the actual race for an F1 drive is far bigger, he said.

“There’s competition I think from at least 20 or 30 other drivers from GP2, the World Series and Formula 3 who are trying to get to F1,” he explains.

Naturally, some tend to believe that it’s a fierce race between country’s two of the finest — and fastest — drivers, Chandhok assures there is no bad blood.

“I think we’re matured and understand that this is the way things are. We respect each others ability and that helps to make sure that even though certain sections like to hype up a ‘feud’ between us, we manage to diffuse that,” the youngster said.

Chandhok won his maiden GP2 race in Belgium with Durango Corse last month, which earned him a test opportunity with Red Bull and joining iSport for the next season was another shot in the arm.

Tipped to be the next F1 driver from India by Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone, Chandhok is also on the radar of Vijay Mallya-owned Force India.

Things, however, look less sunny for Karthikeyan, who has been replaced by Nico Hulkenberg as Williams new test driver and the former Jordan driver has settled for A1 GP. Earlier this month in China, Karthikeyan made a pioneering effort by becoming the first Indian to win a race which is billed the World Cup of motorsport.

Hailing Karthikeyan’s A1 GP triumph, Chandhok said the elderly driver was good enough to repeat his podium finish in the next season.

“He is a very talented driver with loads of experience. A few months ago I had said he would be one of the favourites in A1 GP.” “I certainly expected him to win races and so it wasn’t a surprise for me when he won in China. The reality is that he is a good driver with a good team around him, so why shouldn’t he win?” he said.

Next on Chandhok’s agenda is the GP2 Asia series and Chandhok said he would not be present when Red Bull launches its new F1 car at Jerez next month.

“Red Bull is having a low key launch for the car at the test and I will also be tied up with the GP2 Asia series and the pre-season testing for the European Championship.”        (PTI)

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