The Indian driver had a chaotic start to his F1 career representing HRT-Cosworth – a team which did no pre-season testing because, originally named Campos, it was sold to the owner of Hispania who teamed with Cosworth and launched their F110 car just in time for the season-opening race.
Rookie driver Chandhok could scarcely have endured a stranger start to life in F1 but upon arrival he remembers: “I walked in the paddock, and it’s my first time walking into the paddock at a grand prix weekend as a race driver, and the first driver I spoke with was Michael Schumacher.
“This was Michael making his return to F1, he was the biggest star at that time. You w have to say he’s bigger than Lewis Hamilton or Fernando Alonso at that time. And I was a nobody, right?
“But he actually walked up to me and introduced himself to me, as if he had to, and said ‘welcome to F1’.
“And we had a conversation – ‘where are you from?’ And asked a bit about my background, we had a really polite conversation. He didn’t need to do that.
“And until today, and I told Mick Schumacher this story as well, when he came to me, and I said, ‘I really appreciated that as a young kid coming into F1 with a guy who was on my bedroom wall’. That meant a lot and still means a lot even today.”
The extra significance is that this was also Schumacher’s first time in the F1 paddock in three years.
The legendary German had retired in 2006 while at Ferrari after a career which amassed seven world championships (still the all-time joint record with Hamilton).
But Schumacher was back, driving for Mercedes, ultimately paving the way for Hamilton.
In Bahrain in 2010 Schumacher finished sixth. Chandhok qualified last, then spun off during his second lap as a F1 driver.