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Chandhok gives HRT F1 finish

2010-03-29 09:08

Melbourne - Five laps behind the winner and three behind the second-last racer, Karun Chandhok steered his battered car past the chequered flag at the Australian Grand Prix to give new team Hispania (HRT) their first F1 finish on Sunday.

The Indian driver's debut at the season opener in Bahrain two weeks ago lasted a lap before he retired when he hit a bump and went off the track, having driven the car for the first time in qualifying the previous day.

At Albert Park circuit, the 26-year-old Chennai native ran his car off the greasy track a couple of times to destroy the floor and harm its aerodynamics, but was relieved to hang on to finish 14th behind winner Jenson Button.

"Very pleased to have finished the race for the first time for the team," Chandhok said on his Twitter feed.

"Reward for the long hours the poor guys worked... Had a few issues with the car and were quite safe on tyre choices which hurt performance but right now we needed to finish.

"Feel great physically which is a big psychological boost for me - did my best three laps right at the end of the race."

Chandhok, India's second F1 driver after Narain Karthikeyan debuted in 2005, was more fortunate than team mate Bruno Senna, nephew of late triple champion Ayrton.

The Brazilian moved up from 22nd on the grid to 14th but his race ended after five laps with a hydraulic failure.

The performance of the team, who sneaked into Bahrain and had no pre-season testing, was bettered slightly by Malaysian-backed newcomers Lotus, whose Finnish driver Heikki Kovalainen came in one above Chandhok in 13th.

However, the Richard Branson-owned Virgin Racing, who have applied to the sport's governing body to modify their undersized fuel tanks, are still chasing their first finish after drivers Timo Glock and Lucas di Grassi both retired.

"The team did a great job and brought two very competitive cars on the grid," HRT team boss Colin Kolles said.

"Now we will keep on pushing and just focus on our preparation for Malaysia, where our season will really begin."


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