Karun Chandhok Lotus debut ends with crash

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The Independent Online

Karun Chandhok was left red-faced after his first drive in the Team Lotus Formula One car lasted less than a minute before the Indian spun on the track and crashed into a barrier on Friday.

The 27-year-old, named as a reserve driver for the team only on Tuesday, was first out of the pits in the first practice session for Sunday's season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

Driving Italian Jarno Trulli's car, Chandhok lost control on a track still damp after morning rain and hit a barrier, smashing the front wing off the T128. The driver walked away unhurt but for wounded pride.

"I'm obviously disappointed to have had such a short run for my first time in the Team Lotus car, but I put my hands up to it and totally accept it was a combination of a slippery track and less grip than I expected from the tyres that combined to put me out so early," said Chandhok, who drove for Hispania (HRT) last year.

"It shows what a great team this is that they could get the car fixed that quickly to ensure Jarno could get a decent number of laps under his belt in (the second practice session)."

Trulli posted the 20th fastest lap behind 19th-placed team mate Heikki Kovalainen for the Malaysian-owned Team Lotus, who struggled with reliability problems on Friday and have yet to score a point in Formula One after making their debut last year as Lotus Racing.

"We are clearly not quite where we expected to be in performance terms but we understand the reasons for that," said Team Lotus technical head, citing a fuel pressure problem on Trulli's car and an electronics issue on Kovalainen's.

"We were able to solve those issues and work through most of the afternoon's plan. For tomorrow there is a lot more to come from the car," he added.