After being denied a race victory by 0.800 seconds in Singapore, Chandhok says McLaren driver Lando Norris is at the “top of the shopping list for Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes” and has the ability to win a World Championship.
Things are less rosy, however, for Sergio Perez, but Chandhok believes the Mexican will hold onto his Red Bull seat and has the experience to improve next season to silence doubters.
Chandhok first raced in Formula 1 in 2010 and recalled how legendary driver Michael Schumacher was the first person on the grid to take the time to introduce himself and welcome him to F1, with Chandhok adding this touch of class was extra special given that race was all about the seven-time World Champion making his comeback at Mercedes.
The former driver added that Max Verstappen is among the best ever drivers, alongside Ayrton Senna, Jim Clark, Lewis Hamilton, Michael Schumacher and Alain Prost.
As AlphaTauri prepare to confirm their driver lineup for 2024, Chandhok says that Liam Lawson has done enough to earn a place on the grid next year and should take Yuki Tsunoda’s seat as Daniel Ricciardo’s teammate.
Has the Goodwood crash made you rethink taking part in these events?
The upsides you get from motor racing, the buzz you get from it, outweighs the concerns you have about the race, which has always been the case for me. If you're worrying about the race, then don't do it - nobody is forcing us to do it. Nobody is dragging us kicking and screaming into the car. We do it because we enjoy doing it and driving cars. I'm very lucky I get to drive so many fantastic cars from all sorts of eras and I won't stop that for anything.
How will George Russell respond after his mistake in Singapore?
Everyone is trying to read into what happened with George, but the reality is he made a mistake and went off. That's life. He'll learn from it and have to move on. He's lucky there's another race coming up that will take his mind off it. If it was a long break, a summer or winter break, that would fester and can really sit there for a very long time. The fact that he'll have a chance to put it past him and get on with life I think is good for him. I still think back to things and mistakes that I made eight, ten, 15 years ago and think 'what if...' The key for George, while he's in the thick of the season, is to try and put it past him and just arrive in Japan and hit back.
F1 Drivers Championship Betting Guide: Strategies, Statistics & Picks
Carlos did an outstanding job in Singapore, he used his brain in a very tactical way and it's not the first time we've seen him do it. He played similar tactics in Austria when he had Perez bearing down on him and Lando behind him too. It's something he's thought about before and realised it can be beneficial. To do it at the most physical race of the year under a great deal of pressure to secure a win was very impressive to watch and I was really pleased for him. He did a super job.
What are your predictions for Suzuka?
I think this is a track that will come back to Red Bull. It's a bit like Spa and Silverstone with high-speed corners, long straights and it's a very smooth surface so they can run the car at the ride height they want - which was some of the issues they had in Singapore, they couldn't get the car in the sweet spot. I will be very surprised if anyone but Max Verstappen wins this weekend.
Japanese Grand Prix Betting
Will Red Bull be concerned by a dip in form?
I think Red Bull will be annoyed that they lost in Singapore, but Singapore is a real one-off track - Mercedes had seasons when they were winning everything then got to Singapore and they weren't very quick. Ferrari have always had a good car around Singapore, for whatever reason. I think Red Bull will see Singapore as a one-off. There's a combination of a few things - setup, tyres - they've just never found the sweet spot with either car or driver all weekend. They will be annoyed that their run of wins was broken, but I think they'll dust themselves off and crack on.
Where do the Red Bull team rank in the best teams of all time?
Across the history of the sport, Ferrari, McLaren, Williams, Mercedes, Red Bull, Lotus, all six of those teams have had periods of dominance and I think Red Bull certainly ranks as one of the top six of all time.
Will new fans be put off by Red Bull and Max Verstappen’s dominance?
It might happen, but that's life. Fans have got to realise that not every day is a Sunday. You can be a cricket fan and watch an amazing Ashes series like this year and in another series you may get a five-nil whitewash. Football can be very one-sided, every sport can be, tennis can be done in straight sets. That's sport and that's life. You can't have an amazing season every time. There's an element of people needing to just realise that the 2021 season was very unique, one that comes along every once in a while and it makes us appreciate just how intense and how ferocious it was a little bit more now. In the history of the sport, there have been years when people have dominated and years where it's gone down to the wire, it's going to happen again.
Where does Verstappen rank in the best drivers of all time?
I think Max is, in terms of natural talent, up there with the absolute best we've ever seen in the sport, along with Ayrton Senna, Jim Clark, Lewis Hamilton, Michael Schumacher, Alain Prost. I'm not a big fan of using stats to tell the story, it's one part of the equation. Clark raced in a dangerous era, won two championships and never had the chance to carry on, Senna, likewise, didn't get the chance to finish the '94 season. Max Verstappen is, unquestionably, on his way to becoming one of the all-time greats.
Do you think Red Bull will dominate in 2024?
The new regulations with the wind tunnel restrictions and the cost cap, creates opportunities for other teams to catch up with Red Bull and add performance to their cars. It looks like Ferrari, Mercedes and McLaren have made some big gains going forward. Aston Martin don't seem to have been able to keep up their development curve in the same way. We'll see what next year brings. McLaren have been very impressive this year and they have a new wind tunnel next year. They've got two pretty heavy hitters in David Sanchez and Rob Marshall joining the team, who are very experienced and very successful aero people, I'm excited to see how they get on next year. They have two great drivers as well.
F1 Constructors Championship Betting Guide: Strategies, Statistics & Picks
What does Perez’s Red Bull future look like?
Perez started the season very strongly and then since Miami onwards, it's ebbed away from him as the season has gone on. I think Red Bull will keep him for another year and he'll hold on to that seat. Hopefully, over the winter, he can try and rediscover that early season form and then try and maintain it. Being teammates to Max Verstappen or Lewis Hamilton or Fernando Alonso is a bit of a poisoned chalice because those three have very few weaknesses, if any, they're world champions and they’re all experienced. Whatever you do when you put your best foot forward, everything you do, they come flying back at you, and that's tough. If you're teammates with these three world champions then it means you've ended up in one of the best seats in F1, but then you've got to go up against them. It must be so hard to do that every week.
Perez has enough experience, he's been in enough situations where he has changed teams and lost drives so he won't be getting down. He just wants to deliver on track and he knows there's no guarantee and the only way to keep earning your place on the grid is to deliver on the track, it's a meritocracy in that way. Once you go further down the grid things like commercials come into play, but in the top half of the grid it's all about delivering on track, and if you do that you get re-employed.
How in-demand is Lando Norris right now?
Lando Norris is at the top of the shopping list for Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes if they ever wanted to change drivers. They've all got good drivers now, so there isn't a situation where they need to change drivers. Lando's stock value at the moment is very high and McLaren will have to open the checkbook and give him more to keep him or it'll be a tough battle if he keeps delivering. He's hot property at the moment.
What he can achieve in his career depends on the car and the team that he finds himself at. This new generation of Lando Norris, George Russell, Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc have all got the ability to fight and win the world championship if they're in the right car at the right time. Apart from Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso, we've not seen any of them in a title situation, so we don't know what they'll be like with the pressure of a championship fight. I'd love to see it. We'd love to see a multi-driver and multi-team championship, but you can't have that all the time. In another year, we might have a championship fight with all the teams in it.
Does Liam Lawson deserve a seat in F1 in 2024?
I think Liam Lawson deserves a seat in Formula 1, he's done a great job so far. I would have liked to see a Riccairdo and Lawson lineup at AlphaTauri, I think that would have been a very strong driver lineup. Liam has done a really good job and deserves a full-time seat. Maybe like Oscar Piastri and Esteban Ocon, he might have to wait another year sitting on the sidelines before it comes to him, but I'd like to see him get a chance because he's got the talent for it. Red Bull will want to keep him as an asset after seeing what he's done so far.
Does Lewis Hamilton have what it takes to become an eight-time world champion?
He's got the experience, motivation and on a Sunday he's still one of the top three drivers alongside Max and Ferando where they just have this amazing ability to deliver on every lap, corner, apex and just do it lap after lap all season. There's three drivers in that A+ league that can do it for 24 races each lap.
What are your memories of Michael Schumacher?
Michael Schumacher was one of my heroes, when Prost retired in '93 I became a big Michael fan, though I didn't like what he did with Jacques Villeneuve and Damon Hill, but overall I still appreciated his utter brilliance.
I remember my first-ever F1 test in 2007 with Red Bull in Barcelona. I pulled out of the pit garage and Michael had come back to do a one-off test for Ferrari, he'd done his first retirement at the end of the previous season and he came back to do some testing and he was there that day. I came out of the garage and followed him out of the pit lane and thought to myself 'this is just bonkers'. It was my first-ever day in an F1 car and I was following Michael Schumacher in a Ferrari, it was quite nuts.
When I did my first race in Bahrain in 2010, on the Thursday, the media day, Michael was the first driver that said hello to me and said 'welcome to F1'. He then spent five minutes just chatting, asking about my background and where I was from and wished me luck for my season. He didn't need to do that. This was the race where he was making his big comeback with Mercedes and at that time he was the biggest star, bigger than Lewis Hamilton or Fernando Alonso, he was the biggest star that the sport had and making his big return. I was a nobody, he didn't need to do that and I always really appreciated that, the fact he took that five minutes to make me feel welcome in the sport. He was a great guy and a fantastic driver.
He had this presence. You'd walk into a room and feel his charisma and enormous presence that came with him that was impossible to ignore. There's very few sportspeople in the history of sport that have that.
Michael was a ferocious competitor, he liked the challenge of driving and competing and the adrenaline buzz, it's why, after his first retirement, he went off driving motorbikes and was into skydiving and all sorts of other things because he loved the buzz of being out there and doing things.
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