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GP Week : Issue 191
F1 >>> FEATUrE It’s not just another Indian restaurant – Khushboo is different. situated in Brackley and only 12 kilometres from silverstone, it’s well-known by teams and drivers and inspired by Formula One – you just need to check the menu out: from classic Karun Chandhok specials such as Mirchi Murgi, Chicken Rezala or Bakara, to the recent addition that is Checo's Fiesta, a combination of Indian dishes to share. “It all started in 1996” , explains Jilur Rahman, owner of Khushboo. “We opened a take-away just down the road, but four years after opening that one we opened this one where we are now because all the customers wanted me to open a restaurant. And from the day we opened, we started getting drivers for some strange reason.” The restaurant’s location in the heart of Motorsport Valley has also helped build its reputation within the motorsport world. “For many Formula 3 teams it has become a tradition to have dinner here,” Rahman says. “This is good, because the drivers get to know about the restaurant at a young age and it looks like they never forget about it! Narain Karthikeyan was one of the first to come here and he was who told Karun Chandhok about it.” Chandhok quickly became a regular client. “He lives very near,” explains Rahman, “and he always makes sure he comes round when he has some time.” And it was during one of his first visits that they thought of including Karun's name on the menu. “At first I only used Karun's name for one of the starters” , he admits, “but it was so popular that Karun Chandhok Specials became a whole selection of his favourite dishes! When he saw it, he was surprised and I have to say that everyone that comes here orders one of his dishes, even Sergio Perez!” Checo is also on the menu now. “He said to me as a joke one day, ‘why aren't I on the menu as well!?’ so I ended up adding him, as I know him since his time in GP2.” And what Rahman likes the most about all of the drivers coming to his restaurant is that “they are all very simple to deal with, because they don't really know what to order, so I just choose it for them and they love it!” Christian Horner's favourite There's plenty to choose from on the menu at Khushboo, but Christian Horner is no restaurant risk-taker. “He always orders the same: Chicken Tikka Masala; he's boring!” Rahman jokes. Others are far more adventurous: “Bruno Senna, Nico Hulkenberg, Derek War wick, Damon Hill, Anthony Davidson, journalists like Jake Humphrey, or the BBC's Lee McKenzie...” But there’s no celebrity attitude at Khushboo. “When they come here it’s fantastic: they are very down to earth and have a bit of banter; they just want to have a good time and I treat them like anyone else.” Proof of this is what happened one Saturday night when the restaurant was full: “Heikki Kovalainen, who had come for dinner a few nights before for the first time, appeared at the door without having reserved a table. The restaurant was absolutely packed at that time and I couldn't offer him a table... I had to ask him to leave!” So now you know, whether it’s to enjoy a Karun Chandhok Special or to do as Horner does and go for a safer option, don't forget to reserve a table! CH is boring ... always orders the same! Being Communications Director in a Formula One team is as exciting as it is demanding. Tom Webb describes it as a “controlled chaos”, in this case, controlled by him. “If I had to draw a picture describing my job, that would be me juggling a laptop, a Blackberry, a camera, two racing drivers, a team principal, a chairman and about 18 other people, holding them all up in the air, surrounded by a million people who are all shouting ‘I need this’, ‘I need that right now’. That's my job,” Webb jokes. Webb always makes sure he keeps a couple of lists with him at all times and his favourite sentence, or the one which he repeats most often during the day is ‘Can you email it to me?’ He explains why: “We get so many requests during the day that if I didn't do it this way I would never remember them all. My email becomes a huge action list of things I need to sort out during the day.” A list that never ends during a grand prix week. “We are surrounded by people all day,” Webb says. “It’s not like in normal jobs, where people have an office and a door they can close. But the thing with PR and F1 is that anyone can come and ask you anything at any time, that door doesn't exist! And I receive all type of requests, from interviews to photoshoots or even to try a sandwich! So that ability of being able to manage all the requests that keep coming in is crucial.” The fastest colleagues in the world Webb has been with Caterham since the team started racing in Formula One in 2010, so he has worked with a number of drivers, including popular Dutch rookie and Caterham racer Giedo van der Garde. “He's the easiest driver that I've ever worked with. And I think this is for lots of reasons: he's been in the sport for a long time and he's finally got his chance in F1 and he's grabbing it with both hands. He says yes to pretty much anything we ask him to do. He's funny and a warm- hearted guy. He says that in his family and in his girlfriend’s family he needs to shout to make himself heard, because they are all big personalities. But here in the team we all listen to him and healways makes us laugh! “Charles is quite shy and quiet, but he's a really nice guy, extremely professional. He is a very good contrast to Giedo – because if we had two Giedos you would never hear anything in the garage, only Giedos and engines! “I also worked with Jarno. He was an old-school F1 driver, very famous, popular and amazing, as he'd be quiet and he'd keep himself to himself, and then when he needed to switch on, he would just do it, and he would walk on stage with people and really have fun." Webb’s busiest days are Thursdays at a race weekend, even though he never stops working completely no matter what day it is. The first thing he does every morning is check his emails on his phone, so what bothers him the most are “hotel rooms that don't have a plug anywhere near the bed!” Food is both the best and the worst part of his job. “There's constantly food available. And if you like food as much as I do, then you kind of walk past the guest motorhome where the food is being ser ved – we have a Malaysian chef and there's nice curry... And then you go to the garage and there's a choice of salads and sandwiches. It’s difficult to control yourself and I don't want to run the track because I think running will be very bad for me,” he laughs. Some more curiosities about Tom Webb? He's been asked to sign an autograph while walking to an event with the drivers, who nicknamed him Cloudland as they think he “lives in a world of world of nonsense” , and he describes Formula One as his life. So that’s Tom. If you want to find out more, you know what to do – just email him your questions. They’ll get added to that list... Controlling chaos, one question at a time Meet Tom Webb, Caterham F1 Teaḿs Communications Director and professional cat-herder, a man forever on the move and for whom the concept of rest is little more than a memory. Welcome to Khushboo, a very well-known restaurant in Formula One or, as owner Jilur Rahman puts it, “the restaurant where the most Formula One drivers have come for dinner.” 27 GPWEEK.com // 27 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: